24 Jul 2024


SPS IPC Drives 2014 exclusive show report

The annual SPS IPC Drives show in Germany has been going for 25 years, and has grown almost every year. The 2014 event, held in November, set a new floorspace record, but the number of visitors slipped for the first time.

Germany’s massive SPS IPC Drives automation and motion engineering show has just celebrated its 25th anniversary and, in doing so, set some new benchmarks. For the first time, it occupied 14 halls at its Nuremberg venue, and it set a new record for the total area covered – 117,800m², compared to 114,000m² in 2013.

At the first event in 1990, the show attracted 63 exhibitors and 3,420 visitors. The growth since then has been almost relentless and the recent show attracted more than 1,600 exhibitors and almost 57,000 visitors.

But it’s not all good news for the organisers. For the first time in 25 years, the total number of visitors dropped, from 60,027 in 2013 to 56,787. And despite occupying a larger floor area than in 2013, the total number of exhibitors dipped slightly from 1,622 to 1,602.

However, the number of non-German exhibitors grew from 485 to 508, with the biggest foreign exhibitor, Italy, sending 107 companies to Nuremberg, compared to 84 in 2013. In fact, all of the top ten foreign countries sent more exhibitors than in 2013, with one exception ­– the UK, in seventh position, whose representation fell from 21 to 18 companies.

Siemens had an entire hall to itself for the first time. Its massive display (above), covering more than 3,000m2, was built using 2,700 tonnes of materials that were brought in by 100 articulated trucks. The stand included 29km of cabling and 115 display panels of varying sizes. During the three-day show, visitors to the stand got through 12,000 pretzels, 6,600 sausages, 220kg of potato salad, 120kg of gingerbread and 15,000 cups of coffee.

Thge SPS show is expanding into other countries. Since 2010, there has been a version in Guangzhou in China, followed in 2011 by Italy. This year, the SPS organisers are launching events in India (in February) and Shanghai (in June).


A highlight on the ABB stand was a new IP55-protected, wall-mounting version of its general-purpose ACS580 drive (below), spanning ratings from 0.75–250kW and voltages from 208–480V. The only dimension that increases over the IP21 versions is the depth. A control panel, also protected to IP55, can be housed in the door.

Baumüller has extended its b maXX 3300 series of small servo controllers to cover five different power ratings from 0.75–5kW. It is also offering rectifier and feedback options for its modular b maXX 5000 drives for motor outputs from 1–90kW. A 175mm-wide water-cooled version of the 90kW drive is claimed to be one of the smallest in its class.


Baumüller was also showing several extensions to its motors portfolio. For example, it now offers a water-cooled version of its DSD2 56 permanently excited servomotor, providing much more power than its air-cooled or non-ventilated designs. There is also a new 132 frame size in the DSD2 range, with a nominal torque rating of 500Nm, a peak rating of 1,000Nm, and a top speed of 4,500 rpm. The new size is available in an IP54 air-cooled version and a water-cooled version, to be followed soon by an oil-cooled version. Finally, Baumüller is now offering oil-cooled versions of its DS2 motors (below) in sizes 100–200, and plans to extend this option to its DST2 series.

On a stand dominated by the Emerson Industrial Automation identity, Control Techniques introduced a safety module for its Unidrive M600 and M700 drives. The SI-safety module, which is TÜV-approved to SIL 3, supports various safety options including SS, SOS, SLS and SLP. CT’s SafePro software can unlock full safe-PLC capabilities, allowing users to develop their own safety function blocks for advanced applications by combining various elements.

Danfoss has expanded its ISD 510 range of integrated servodrives to support the real-time Ethernet systems, EtherCat and Powerlink. The decentralised drives are based on permanent magnet synchronous motors with integrated electronics. A central power supply can support up to 64 drives, each capable of delivering up to 13Nm of torque.

Danfoss is also offering a ProfiSafe option module for its FC302 AutomationDrives, which provides safety to SIL 2 / PL d. The MCB 152 module can activate the drives’ integrated safety functions from any ProfiSafe host.

Kollmorgen has doubled the maximum output current of its AKD family of servo amplifiers from 24A to 48A. The company is promoting the more powerful system as an efficient alternative to complex centralised hydraulic drive systems.

Lenze was showing two ranges of IE3 motors that are the same size as IE2 machines but consume up to 20% less energy. The fixed-speed m200-P motors cover the power range 5.5–45kW with a choice of operating voltages. The m500-P motors (below) cover the same power range but are optimised for use with inverters and can also be operated directly from the mains. Lenze says that the new motors will usually pay for themselves within two years.

The Korean automation supplier LSIS has a new range of HVAC drives covering ratings up to 90kW. The compact LSLV H100 fan and pump drives can be mounted side-by-side and support BACnet as standard (with LonWorks as an option). They offer functions including soft fill control, multi-motor control and a fire mode.

Mitsubishi Electric has added IP55-protected dust- and splash-proof versions to its FR-A800 series of frequency inverters, with outputs from 400W–160kW. The drives can operate either asynchronous or IPM/ISM motors and have maximum operating frequencies of 400Hz. They have a 250% overload capacity and speed rise times of less than 80ms. They support 11 network options.


Parker has extended the top rating of its AC30 series of VSDs to 250kW. A recent update has added a pulse encoder feedback option bringing closed-loop capabilities to the drives, which can be used with either AC induction or PM servomotors. A Codesys-based software tool allows powerful PLC functions to be created in the drives.

Parker was also showing recent enhancements to its AC10 range of compact drives including IP66 versions, and power ratings that have been extended up to 180kW. Other additions include a fire mode and a “fly catching” function that recognises and matches the motor’s frequency on start-up to avoid the generation of EMF. The drives support sensorless vector control and can handle 150% overloads for one minute.

The Israeli manufacturer Servotronix announced a range of integrated closed-loop stepper motors said to deliver similar performance to servomotors. The integrated electronics in the stepIM motors control them as two-phase BLDC motors, offering position servo-loop, velocity loop, DQ current control and other functions. Closed-loop commutation, using a single-turn absolute encoder, optimises torque at any speed.

Servotronix also has a new range of dynamic servomotors, called PRO/PRO2, for applications with strict accuracy and stability requirements.

Siemens has developed a range of IE3 motors for use as roller table motors in steel plants, based on its Simotics 1LE1 platform. The ventilated four- and six-pole motors are designed to withstand high levels of shock and vibration, and can deliver 20–578Nm of torque. They are available in versions for mains operation, or optimised for use with its Sinamics S120 converters.

Siemens has also launched three software-based Advanced Technology Functions for the S120 family, allowing users to add application-specific functions to their drives. The functions – synchronous operation, camming and positioning of synchronous axes – can be downloaded from the Web. They allow drive-related tasks to be moved from an external controller to the drive.

Sigmatek announced a compact (21 x 59 x 22cm) servodrive that can control up to six motors. There are also three- and four-axis variants of the Dias Drive 1000, with rated currents per axis of 5–20A (peak 10–40A). Controller cycle times of 62.5µs provide precise positioning at high speeds. The drives offer various safety functions to SIL 3 / PL e. Plug-in feedback modules are available for resolvers, and EnDat 2.1 and Hiperface DSL encoders.

The Swiss manufacturer Technosoft launched several new products at the SPS show, including a compact, integrated motion controller, drive and PLC. The iPos 3604 HX-CAN drive can be used for sinusoidal or trapezoidal position, speed and torque control of rotary or linear DC brushless motors, and open- or closed-loop control of two- and three-phase stepper motors up to 144W. It is suitable for master-slave or standalone applications with continuous currents of 4A (peak 10A) and PWM frequencies of 20kHz.

Technosoft was also showing an “intelligent” stepless motor with an integrated motion controller and an absolute magnetic encoder that provides 4,096 counts/rev for accurate speed and position control, down to 5 arc-min. The compact (42 x 42 x 70mm) iMOT172S XM-CAN motor (above) can deliver up to 500mNm at 1,000 rpm without a gearbox. Technosoft says that its field-oriented control effectively transforms the motor into a stepless servomotor with low current consumption and heat dissipation. Initially, the motors support two versions of CAN. An EtherCat version is planned.


Trio Motion Technology, one of the handful of UK exhibitors at SPS, was demonstrating an EtherCat master from its Motion Coordinator range controlling 12 drives from different manufacturers on one network. The MC4N-ECAT controller can handle up to 32 axes and 1,024 I/O points, and allows automatic detection and plug-and-play operation of a growing number of EtherCat drives.

WEG’s water-cooled CFW11W modular VSD (below) made its SPS debut at the recent show. It delivers up to 40% more power than an air-cooled inverter, saving space and cutting costs. It covers power ratings from 450kW–2.8MW, with the largest version being smaller than a 2MW air-cooled VSD.

WEG has also doubled the top power rating of its CFW500 VSDs from 7.5kW to 15kW. The plug-and-play drives have built-in micro-PLCs and come with pre-programmed macros for applications such as positioning. The IP20-protected drives can be connected to most major fieldbuses.

At the other end of the size scale, WEG has more than doubled the largest version of its air-cooled MVW01 medium-voltage drives from 6.5MW to 16MW for voltages from 2.2–4.16kV. The complete line now covers voltages from 2.3–6.9kV and rated powers from 400kW–16MW. WEG claims that these are the most efficient MV drives on the market, with an efficiency of more than 99%. Water-cooled versions are available offering up to 40% more power than the air-cooled models.

Wittenstein Cyber Motor was highlighting its ability to supply motors for extreme conditions, including radioactive environments, extreme temperatures, high vacuums and cleanrooms. Its “cyber special motors” portfolio includes permanent magnet rotary and linear synchronous motors and actuators.


Baumüller has developed an IEC 61131-compliant soft-PLC that incorporates motion control functions and is said to simplify designing distributed intelligence in machines. The b maXX softdrivePLC runs as part of a drive’s firmware, and can perform tasks from allocating digital outputs to complex calculations. As well as avoiding the costs of a separate controller, the soft-PLC can run highly synchronised programs with 125µs cycle times. It can access two controllers in a twin-axis set-up, avoiding the need for fieldbus communications between them.

Baumüller was also showing a space-saving family of touchscreen HMIs in sizes from 4.3–15.4”. Visualisation on the b maXX-HMI panels can be Web-based and they include symbol and graphics libraries, as well as animation options, and alarm and event management functions.

Beckhoff was promoting a low-cost, all-in-one controller incorporating a 7” touch display that is designed to mounted in control cabinets to act as an automation controller for smaller machines, plants or buildings. The fanless CP6606 Economy Panel PC (below) has a 1GHz ARM CPU and 1GB of RAM. It can be used as an OPC UA client or server.

Delta Industrial Automation exhibited a PAC (programmable automation controller) that integrates motion control with logic programming and synchronises EtherCat communications with Delta’s own DMCNET bus. The MH1’s EtherCat master port supports synchronous cycle times up to 4kHz for up to 64 axes of motion control, while a built-in DMCNET master supports 12-axis control. Up to 100 EtherCat slave modules and 24 DMCNET modules can be connected.

Delta has also released a series of touchscreen HMIs in sizes up to 15”, with aluminium enclosures and IP65 front covers. The DOP-W HMIs have a monitoring function that allows users to view the HMI image remotely and control the process via Ethernet

Eaton unveiled an “ultra-compact” modular slice I/O system with a high channel density, CANopen connections and a plug-in connector technology that allows I/O stations with sensors and actuators to be pre-assembled, simplifying commissioning and maintenance. With the XN300 system (shown below), up to 20 channels can be implemented on five plug-in connectors occupying an area of 12.5 x 102mm. Built-in intelligence can reduce the number of modules needed in many applications. CANopen reaction times of less than 1ms are possible, and up to 640 channels can be addressed for stations with up to 32 subscribers.


Eaton is also offering a new range of HMI/PLCs with high-resolution multi-touch displays (7” or 10.1”) that support gesture control. The XV300 series allows machine-builders to develop simple, compact, affordable systems that support multimedia elements such as videos, PDFs and Web content.

Festo announced a complete control package for complex, dynamic handling systems with up to four axes, that needs just one order number. The CMCA system includes an axis controller, 3D motion control, a motor controller and built-in safety. It is available in a cabinet or on a mounting plate. The system is delivered with basic parameters set, thus simplifying commissioning.

The German controls specialist Jetter had several new arrivals on its stand including an axis controller for applications needing high computing power and motion control functions. The JetControl 945MC has an integrated axis controller and can manage up to 64 axes.

Jetter also has two new compact industrial PCs: the maintenance-free JI-PC 601 uses solid-state drives and an Atom dual-core processor; while the JI-PC 602 has on-board COM Express modules, making it highly scalable.

New from Lenze is a range of multi-touch control terminals that offer the option of two-handed operation to eliminate the risk of errors when using one hand. The v800 terminals, available in screen sizes of 13.3” and larger, can be supplied as IP65-protected panel PCs or as embedded panels.

Mitsubishi has expanded its HMI portfolio with a range of entry-level devices that can log, display and store data from system components and export it to a PC or SD card for further evaluation. The 7” and 10” GS HMIs can display and adjust parameters from remote components such as PLCs, VSDs and servo amps. In the event of a problem, an operator can examine the PLC code and identify errors without needing an external PC or extra software.

Mitsubishi also announced additions to the GOT2000 family of HMIs that it launched at the 2013 SPS show. The new GT25 series (which fits between the GT23 and GT27 series) includes 8.4”, 10.4” and 12.1” models, and incorporates a document viewing function that can display manuals or photographs, thus avoiding the need for printed service documents.

Mitsubishi has also added a 15” HMI to the GT27 series and 3.8–5.7” HMIs to the GT21 series.

Phoenix Contact announced a new generation of panels with built-in Web browsers that can display visualisations that support HTML5 as well as JavaScript applications. The WP 3000 range (below) includes IP65-front-protected touch-panels from 5.7–12”, which are intended purely as operating devices.

Rockwell Automation was previewing a range of graphic terminals in five screen sizes from 4–10” (including two widescreen options). The Allen Bradley PanelView Plus 7 Standard terminals allow data to be monitored anywhere in a plant via a tablet or smartphone. Project data can be stored on SD cards to simplify the configuration of multiple machines. A software library, including faceplates, is claimed to cut screen development times by up to 90%.

Siemens announced a second generation of its Simatic mobile HMI panels that offer the option of a built-in emergency-stop button that is illuminated only when the panel is connected to a safety circuit. The panels have 7” or 9” widescreen displays that are claimed to offer a 40% larger area than the previous generation. The IP65 panels can withstand falls from 1.2m.

Siemens also launched a range of 15” panel PCs and HMIs with multi-touch displays that can detect spurious touching by, for example, the ball of the hand. The Simatic IPC477D and IPC677D panel PCs and IFP1500 HMIs can sense gestures and can be operated while wearing gloves.

Sigmatek has introduced a 7” display with a dual-touch function, allowing scrolling, zooming and other two-finger gestures. The ETT 732 HMI uses a Linux-based real-time operating system and its interfaces include Ethernet, Can, USB and RS-232 ports.

Four years after Vipa launched its SLIO slice I/O system, it has added two CPUs that convert it into a full control system. The iMC7 CPU acts as a PLC with built-in motion functions and an EtherCat master that can communicate with VSDs and servodrives from Yaskawa (Vipa’s parent since 2013). The PLCs (below) are programmed using Vipa’s Speed7 Studio software which allows drives to be added using drag-and-drop gestures. The PLCs are programmed using Step7. They have 48Mbit/s backplanes and can switch to an accuracy of ±1µs.


Vipa also announced 10” and 15” additions to its eco range of touch-panel HMIs. They accept two network cards, allowing them to operate on two separate networks. The fan-less panels have a resolution of 1,024 x 768 pixels and run the Windows Embedded CE 6.0 operating system.

Wago has new input modules for its fieldbus-independent I/O System 750, including an eight-channel digital input module for PTC thermistors, and four- and eight-channel analogue input modules for RTD resistance sensors.

Yaskawa has a new motion controller which, it claims, offers 50% better performance than its predecessor and cycle times as low as 125µs. the MP3300 controller (below) is based on 64-bit technology and supports both floating-point numbers and double-precision (eight byte) and 64-bit integer values. For the European market, there is a version (MP3300iec) that supports IEC 61131-3 programming, as well as PLCopen function blocks.


Balluff has extended its IO-Link Smart Light range of LED-based signal towers to include new versions with one or three segments and optional acoustic signalling. The towers (below) can be adapted to almost any requirement via a controller, without needing to set DIP switches or rely on other hardware configuration. Settings can be changed on-the-fly.

A family of IP67 non-contact reed switches from Eaton is designed to monitor safety guards, doors and flaps to PL e / SIL 3. The RS-Titan switches are supplied with actuators and come in three versions with differing mounting and cabling arrangements.

Eaton has also developed an online software tool to simplify configuring its SL4 and SL7 signal towers. Users select the required components (which can include visual and acoustic modules) and combine up to five for each tower using a drag-and-drop process. The towers can be supplied assembled to the design.

Also on the software front, Eaton has enhanced its free CurveSelect tool, making it easier to compare the tripping characteristics of protection devices. It can assess the interaction not only between Eaton products, but also those of other manufacturers.

New from Euchner is a transponder-coded safety switch that combines an electromechanical safety switch with guard locking and guard lock monitoring. A single CTP switch achieves Cat 4 / PL e without additional fault exclusion. It is also said to surpass the requirements in EN ISO 14119 for a type 4 switch with a high coding level.

Euchner was also showing a transponder-coded switch which can act as an AS-i slave via a direct ribbon-cable connection. The CES-AS-C04 switch has built-in diagnostics LEDs.

Kübler is offering a compact speed-monitoring safety module that is said to be easy to retrofit. The rail-mounting Safety-M module (below) has a signal splitter for encoder signals, reducing the need for external cabling. The module incorporates speed and position-related safety functions including SS1, S2, SOS, SLS, SDI and SSM, and, with a certified encoder, achieves SIL 3 / Pl e. An optional removable OLED display supports diagnostics and parameterising without needing a PC.

Kübler was also showing a new generation of safety modules including basic and expansion modules with SIL 3 /PL e and UL certification. The programmable basic modules carry out speed and position acquisition tasks with master functions, and are available with digital I/O or as fieldbus gateways. Configuration data can be stored on removable memory cards. The modules can process drive-related safety functions as well as signals from safety devices. There are axis expansion modules that can be connected to incremental or absolute encoders. Teach-in of speed is possible via a button.

Omron’s Sysmac NX-S safety controller, previously incorporated in its Sysmac automation platform, is now available as a standalone device that can be operated without implementing standard control. The scalable SIL 3 / PL e controller can be used for installations with a handful of I/O, to applications needing up to 256 I/O points. Up to 63 slices can be connected with the user free to choose between safe or standard %%PAGE_BR%%I/O, and between digital and analogue types. The inputs support direct connection of any type of safety device, while the outputs support any type of safety actuator. There are two Ethernet/IP ports and the controller is programmed using the Sysmac Studio tool.

Phoenix Contact has expanded its Uno Power range of power supplies to include two versions with adjustable outputs of 24–28V DC and with high power densities, to supply loads from 150–240W. The supplies are more than 94% efficient with idling losses of 0.3W.

Pilz has introduced a shorter (13mm) version of its PSENcode coded safety switches which uses RFID transponder technology and can be used on applications that would previously have needed magnetic switches. The switches (below), which monitor the positions of guards and other devices, can be installed in various directions and with two different operating distances.

Rittal claims to be the first manufacturer to offer an approved busbar system optimised for both AC and DC applications. Its RiLine system and components can now be used for DC applications without needing any other products. The system has a current-carrying capacity of up to 1.6kA, a nominal voltage of up to 1.5kV and a short-circuit rating of up to 40kA. Its components, such as connection and circuit-breaker adapters, are suitable for DC applications.

Rockwell Automation has announced a self-guided software tool called the Safety Maturity Index (SMI) that allows manufacturers to assess and compare the effectiveness of their safety programmes, and can help them to optimise their plant performance. The tool offers recommendations to help achieve best-in-class safety performance.

At the SPS show, Schmersal unveiled a new generation of compact, modular safety controllers with a universal communications interface that allows different fieldbus protocols to be selected via software, so that one controller can connect to all common fieldbuses. The multifunctional Protect PSC1 controller (below) consists of a PLC with I/O expansion modules for processing signals from mechanical and electronic safety switchgear. It can also monitor up to 12 axes of motion.

Schmersal had several other safety-related arrivals at SPS, including: versions of its AZM 300 solenoid interlocks with an emergency exit or alternative emergency release; control panels, with a choice of pushbuttons, indicator lights and key-operated switches, that can installed in standard machine-building profiles; safety light curtains and light grids (SLC / SLG 440AS) with integrated AS-i Safety interfaces; and a safety switching device (RSS 16) that is the same size as an AZ 16 safety switch, but uses RFID technology rather than a mechanical actuator, and offers a choice between three different encoded versions.

Steute was demonstrating a wireless hand controller with four pushbuttons that can be assigned different duties. The RF HB-4CH controller has an operating range of 400m outdoors and around 50m indoors. Steute also has a series of foot controls developed for use in extreme environments. The robust GFSI Extreme is IP69K-protected, so can withstand high-pressure cleaning. A variant for use in Ex zones 1 and 21 is being developed, while another will operate wirelessly, avoiding the need for signal or power cables.

At the show, Vipa and Wieland announced plans to co-operate in the field of machine safety. Vipa’s control products will connect to Wieland’s safety controllers via Profibus or Profinet, allowing a bidirectional exchange of data, including safe input and output signal states.

Weidmüller has come up with a new way of connecting motors in the field that, it says, reduces wiring complexity and installation times compared to conventional systems based on heavy-duty plug-in connectors or junction boxes. The “plug-and-play” SAI MVV %%PAGE_BR%%system (below) is aimed at installations where motors run without controls or where the controls are on the motor. It provides a simple star wiring system for up to four 400V AC motors drawing up to 10A per phase. It uses S-coded M12 sockets and doesn’t need fuses.

Another innovation from Weidmüller is a system for making power, data and signal connections to switchgear and control cabinets, which is said to occupy half the space of existing systems. The modular IP65-protected FrontCom Vario system integrates multiple functions in a single space-saving frame.

The German electrical specialist Wöhner was showing several new arrivals, including a modular busbar system based on 185mm spacings which allows components to be mounted quickly without drilling or special tools. The 185Power system Power is fed via modules with terminals, inline fuse-switch disconnectors (using a new ventilation and insulation concept), or adapters and MCCBs (up to 1.6kA).

Wöhner was also demonstrating a busbar adapter for Siemens’ 3VA circuit-breakers up to 160A for its 30Compact range, as well as adapters for 18mm-wide devices, such as MCBs, for its 60mm system.


The US electric linear actuator specialist Exlar launched a new model in its FT series of rod-style, rollerscrew-driven actuators which offer high thrusts and speeds and a compact size, making them a rival to hydraulic cylinders. The new FT45 model has a continuous force rating of 44.5kN and offers several enhancements including IP65 protection.

Kollmorgen launched a range of hygienic IP69K linear actuators designed to offer an alternative to pneumatics in food, pharmaceutical and packaging applications. The actuators (below) combine Kollmorgen’s AKMH stainless-steel servomotors with stainless-steel actuators and cover a thrust range from 0.89–20kN in four sizes, with feed rates of 1m/s. They use single-cable connections to servo controls.

Kollmorgen has also extended its direct-drive range with a series of maintenance-free, iron-core linear motors offering high power densities. The ICXH motors can deliver continuous feed forces from 175–5,341N  (with a peak of more than 12kN) at speeds from less than 1µm/s to more than 5m/s. Acceleration is 3–10G. Cogging is said to be minimised.

New from Kübler is a special stainless-steel bellows coupling for its Sendix SIL shaft encoders, designed to ensure safe and reliable connections between motors and encoders. Described as a world first, the coupling incorporates a pair of internal clamps that grip the encoder shaft if the spring element is damaged or becomes loose. 

Linak has developed an integrated electronics system for its linear actuators that offers various feedback and adjustment options, protects the actuator and application, monitors temperatures, and controls the actuator’s power output. The iFlex system comes in four versions: basic, with preconfigured parameters; advanced, which allows users to configure variables such as speed, stroke and current limits; parallel, which allows up to seven slave actuators to be controlled by a master actuator; and bus communication, which supports Modbus RTU, RS-485 or Linak’s own LINbus.

Linak was demonstrating a compact actuator incorporating iFlex. The 55.3mm-wide LA25 can deliver forces of up to 2.5kN and stroke lengths from 20–300mm. The robust actuator is protected to IP69K.

Wittenstein was previewing a new generation of servo actuators ahead of their launch in 2015. They are a similar size to its previous devices but deliver up to twice as much power and up to 80% more torque, with almost no increase in the current drawn. The actuators (below) will be available in several sizes for torque levels from 60–2,000Nm, and preferred ratios from 1=10 to 1=100.

Wittenstein has also %%PAGE_BR%%added a Drive-Cliq encoder interface to its TPM+ family of servo actuators, allowing them to be connected to Siemens’ Sinamics S120 motion controls.

Yaskawa has expanded its family of linear direct drives with a new iron-core linear motor that delivers peak forces of up to 7.56kN (when using an optional water-cooling system). The SGLFW2 motors (below) are smaller and more efficient than previous models, and have low force ripples to ensure precise, smooth movements. The rotor is located between two permanent-magnet rails so that the opposing magnetic fields cancel.

Yaskawa has also announced a smaller version of its Motoman MPP3 delta robot, aimed at demanding picking tasks in confined spaces. The MPP3S four-axis robot can move loads of up to 3kg at up to 150 cycles/min (or 1kg at 185 cycles/min). It has a 684mm-diameter footprint and a working area diameter of up to 800mm.


Balluff has launched a series of miniature, metal-housed photoelectric sensors with separate amplifiers that can be located outside the sensing area. The company has developed a patented process to manufacture the precision micro-optical components used in the Micromote sensors, which are aimed at applications where space is tight and low weights are needed. Balluff sees them as an alternative to fibre optics in some applications. The range includes diffuse, through-beam, high-vacuum and fork sensors.

Another new range of tiny photoelectric sensors from Balluff is the plastic-housed BOS 6K family, which includes 70 variants including diffuse, through-beam and reflective sensors, with and without background suppression, as well as analogue distance sensors. They offer IP67 and IP69K protection and Ecolab approval. They are the same size and price as their predecessors and are installed in the same way.

Baumer has expanded its VeriSens XC series of vision sensors to include models that can identify and inspect colours (below). An “intelligent assistant” called Color FEX helps to set up the sensors to identify colours and shades and visualise them in 3D as colour spheres.

Baumer has also added two photoelectric and three ultrasonic sensors to its robust M18 portfolio. The OR/UR18 sensors are taught by touching their housing with a metal object such as a screwdriver. The photoelectric versions do not need reflectors.

Reflector-free sensors also feature in series of stainless-steel photoelectric sensors that Baumer has released for the food industry. The O500 sensors are available in hygienic versions or IP69K washdown variants, and include retro-reflective models.

A laser class 1 model has been added to ifm’s PMDLine O5D range of photoelectric sensors which combine background suppression, visible red light and high excess gain.

The German couplings manufacturer KTR has developed a measuring system that calculates angles and direction of rotation of shafts, as well as torque and speed. The Dataflex system (below) has a sampling rate of 10Hz and a measuring range of 10–1,000Nm (with an extension to 5kNm planned). To calculate shaft speeds, an encoder provides two signals phase-shifted by 90 degrees, with a resolution of 360 or 720 pulses/rev.

Kübler was showing several additions to its range of encoders at SPS, including: a series of IP67-protected 36mm magnetic multi-turn encoders (Sendix M36); a range of IP54 40mm optical incremental encoders in shaft or blind hollow shaft versions (Sendix Base K140); a family of 58mm multi-turn absolute encoders with hollow shafts up to 15mm and Modbus interfaces (F5868/F5888); and versions of its Sendix absolute encoders that support the open-source BiSS interface.

Pepperl+Fuchs announced a long-range 2D laser scanner that uses a pulse-ranging time-of-flight technology to detect gaps in %%PAGE_BR%%applications such as high-bay shelving, as well as interfering and overhanging products. The R2000 Detection scanner uses a rotating measuring head rather than a complex rotating mirror, and provides an angular resolution of 0.071 degrees.

A new magnetic absolute rotary encoder from Servotronix offers an accuracy of 18–22 bits. The sensAR encoder uses a patented signal processing method that associates each digital position code with analogue signals to determine an accurate absolute angular position with a high resolution.

As usual at SPS, Sick had a clutch of new products including a distance sensor with a range of up to 10m on black targets and up to 30m on white targets. The DT50-2 sensor (below) uses a patented time-of-flight technology and can deliver up to 3,000 distance values per second. It is available with a built-in LCD or a WiFi interface.

Sick also has a new generation of intelligent light grids which, it says, set new standards in terms of resolution, response times and ease of use. The MLG-2 grids can detect objects that are transparent, small or fast-moving. They support IO-Link and have analogue and digital outputs. There are two models: the Prime, with an operating range of up to 8.5m, offers four beam separations from 5–50mm; while the Pro version can detect objects down to 2mm and can simulate an application as a 2D animation.

Sick also had several photoelectric sensor innovations, including: a device called TranspaTect MultiTask that can detect transparent items without using reflectors; a module (Ax20) that contains an array of sensors for detecting objects with varying heights, thicknesses or positions to an accuracy of 35µm; and a device (MultiLine) that incorporates two sensors in one housing that work together to detect flat or textured objects.


On its SPS stand, Balluff was demonstrating two new Profinet IO-Link master modules. It claims that one of these is the first to offer 16 IO-Link ports, allowing up to 272 I/O signals to be processed in combination with sensor/actuator hubs. This is said to deliver substantial savings per input compared to standard fieldbus modules.

The second innovation is push-pull variants of its IO-Link master modules for either optical fibres or copper cables (shown below). One version can convert from copper to fibre optics within the module. Both of Balluff’s IO-Link arrivals have built-in displays for information and diagnostics.

Delta has a new range of managed industrial Ethernet switches incorporating a proprietary redundant ring technology that provides a self-healing recovery time of less than 20ms, thus ensuring smooth data transmission with minimal losses. The DVS switches offer a choice of operating modes including trunking ring, multi-ring, ring coupling and dual-homing. They support Ethernet/IP and Modbus TCP.

New from Eaton is a gateway that links its SmartWire-DT (SWDT) communications and connection system to EtherCat, allowing SWDT devices such as VSDs, soft-starts, circuit-breakers and pushbuttons to be used in EtherCat systems. The gateway transfers data from the devices via EtherCat to a PLC or other controller.

Eaton has also added a T-connector to SWDT, allowing it to connect directly to sensors and actuators outside of control panels. The IP67-protected devices, which use M12 sockets, can connect up to four sensors/actuators. Up to 99 devices can be connected to a control system via a cable up to 600m long. Eaton says that the connectors (below) will reduce the amount of cabling needed and simplify future expansion. For sensors with their own power supplies, the power consumption can be monitored to check that they are connected correctly.

A %%PAGE_BR%%new gateway from HMS Industrial Networks allows Modbus devices to be connected to the BACnet network used in building automation applications. The gateway handles conversion between Modbus (RTU, ASCII and TCP) and BACnet/IP, and makes Modbus devices appear as a BACnet-compliant devices.

Murrelektronik launched a module for its Cube67 fieldbus system that is designed to be used with incremental encoders. The device allows measurements of distances and angles of movement on axes to be integrated easily into Cube67 installations.

Nexans introduced a Cat 6A Ethernet cable for automation applications that can carry 10Gbit/s and signal frequencies up to 500MHz, while offering the durability and flexibility needed for energy chain applications. The Motionline cable can bend to a radius ten times its diameter, while withstanding at least three million cycles of operation.

Phoenix Contact announced a range of optical converters for use in applications with time-critical Ethernet protocols. The FL MC 200T converters (below) can span distances of up to 40km using single-mode optical fibres. An optional pass-through mode halves the latency compared to standard mechanisms.

Also new from Phoenix is an 868MHz wireless module for transmitting I/O signals and serial data over distances of up to 20km. The module, part of the Radioline wireless system, has a maximum power of 500mW and is aimed at applications that are not time-critical.

Weidmüller has developed a Gigabit industrial security router to provide secure communications between Ethernet-based machines and systems, as well as overlay networks. The IE-SR-2GT-LAN-FN firewall/router is aimed at applications where security and Network Address Translation (NAT) are a top priority. It has two Gigabit ports and allows production machines with the same IP addresses to be operated in parallel and integrated into overlay networks without needing to assign individual IP addresses to each machine.


The Codesys automation software has received a substantial update said to increase efficiency – with conditional breakpoints and execution points, for example – as well as graphical displays of build errors and input warnings. The V3.5 service pack 6 can refactor IEC 61131-3 application code to customise project call points. A new tool can create a “snapshot” of PLC status and use it to track and edit application errors.

Eaton has released a new version of its Galileo project design software, allowing users to develop projects faster, more efficiently and more reliably. Galileo 10 incorporates new features that simplify the programming and maintenance of control systems over the whole lifecycle of plants and machines.

With its latest version, the Eplan Engineering Center platform has been renamed Eplan Engineering Configuration (with the same EEC abbreviation). Version 2.4 can be used to configure components, machines, and complex projects. The new version includes a direct coupling to Eplan Pro Panel, which is used to engineer 3D enclosures.

On part of its stand, Eplan was demonstrating the integration of the Mitsubishi Adroit Process Suite (Maps) with its Electric P8 data, allowing P8 users to generate Maps projects directly from circuit diagrams. Mitsubishi says this could halve development costs and accelerate commissioning. Maps is lifecycle software used to generate control codes, Scada templates, tags and documents. Its integration with Electric P8 will allow system components to be commissioned without needing to write any control system code, design a faceplate or generate a tag.

Eplan also announced that its Data Portal can now access 2,600 new and updated records for Rittal products, and now covers almost all of its enclosure product data. Meanwhile, Festo’s Eplan library now includes a database with more than 35,000 products and function macros for 22,000 products.

Lenze has added robotics modules %%PAGE_BR%%to its Fast application software toolbox (below), making it easy to integrate robots with up to six degrees of freedom into automation systems. The software splits robot programming into kinematics and path planning (which is based on the PLCopen Part 4 standard). For example, there are modules available for pick-and-place applications, and corresponding co-ordinate transformation software for various kinematics. The kinematics modules include versions for delta, Scara and gantry robots. Path planning supports linear, circular, spline and point-to-point commands, and paths can be planned independently of the kinematics.

Mitsubishi has developed a “lite” version of its Maps software (see above). The Maps HMI version has fewer functions and is aimed at applications with simple HMI requirements, which do not need a full Scada package. The standalone Windows-based software offers up to two remote connections and includes tools such as wizards, templates and a graphics library, that make it easier to design HMIs. More than 100 drivers are available, covering most popular PLCs.

At SPS, Mitsubishi was also demonstrating software for packaging applications, which generates programs and creates state diagrams automatically. It is said to allow systems to be set up quickly using predefined function blocks and programs. Function blocks for movement sequences are based on PLCopen standards, while the description of state diagrams is based on the Omac PackML specification.

Pilz has launched a Web-based visualisation package that can be used to operate and monitor its equipment, and to give users a complete view of their plant. The PASvisu software includes a builder module that is used to create and configure visualisation projects. It provides access to project data, avoiding the need to enter and assign variables manually. Selectable styles provide a consistent look-and-feel across a project, while the software also includes pre-defined graphic input and display elements.  [FF]

Bosch Rexroth has developed a “universal translator” that links high-level programming languages and Internet dialects on the one hand, to PLC-based machine controls, on the other. The WebConnector allows VSDs and controls to access Web applications directly and exchange information with them, and opens up the possibility of programming control systems using efficient high-level languages.

The WebConnector marks the next phase in Rexroth’s Open Core Engineering platform which supports a wide range of protocols and programming languages and acts as a bridge between PLC-based automation and the world of IT. At SPS, Rexroth was also highlighting an Open Core interface for its IndraDrive drives family which, it says, will allow new functions and communications possibilities. Applications programmed in high-levels Windows-based languages will have access to the drives’ parameters and functions.

Rockwell Automation has released a new version of its Studio 5000 Logix Designer software which is used to configure Allen-Bradley Logix5000 controllers for discrete, process, batch, motion, safety and drive applications. Version 24 has new capabilities claimed to boost productivity, improve start-up times, and cut lifecycle costs. The enhancements include a “logical organiser” that arranges program code based on users’ applications, rather than how a PLC executes the code. Workflows have been improved and collaborative tools added.

At SPS, Servotronix was demonstrating a multi-axis motion control hardware and software package based on Linux with real-time extensions. The softMC package provides an open, modular machine control environment and can be used to create motion programs with support form pre-emptive multitasking and asynchronous event responses. Its motion functions include support for standard robots as well as non-standard robot kinetics. The softMC package integrates with Servotronix’s servo and stepper systems.

And finally, Wago announced an engineering software package called e!Cockpit that, it says, will shorten automation project development times. Based on Codesys 3, it supports automation tasks from hardware configuration, programming, simulation and visualisation, to commissioning. The graphical programming tool uses drag-and-drop techniques and supports object-oriented programming.

There are more news items from the 2014 SPS IPC Drives show in other sections of the Drives & Controls Web site. Many can be found in the Technology News and Product News sections of the site for December 2014 and January 2015.

The next SPS IPC Drives show will take place in Nuremberg from 24–26 November, 2015.