23 Jul 2024


SPS IPC Drives 2015 exclusive show report

After dipping in 2014, there was a surge in visitor and exhibitor numbers at the 2015 SPS IPC Drives automation and motion engineering show, held recently in Nuremberg. There was plenty for the visitors to see and discuss, including an unusually large number of VSD launches, the latest developments in Industry 4.0, and lots of talk about using cloud platforms.

By the time the show closed at the end of November, 64,386 visitors had passed through its gates – a substantial 13.4% increase on the previous year. The number of exhibitors at the three-day show also climbed, from 1,602 in 2014 to 1,668, while the number of non-German exhibitors grew from 508 to 534.

One figure that has continued to fall is the number of UK exhibitors at the show, which has dropped from 21 in 2013, to 18 in 2014 and just 17 in 2015.

The 2015 exhibition continued the emphasis on Industry 4.0 which has been a dominant theme at German industrial trade shows in recent years. An important sub-theme was the number of companies and organisations now offering to link industrial systems to cloud platforms.

In terms of the technologies on show, 2015 was notable for the number of new and enhanced ranges of variable-speed drives that were launched at SPS. VSD suppliers that unveiled brand-new or significantly extended drives ranges included ABB, Bonfiglioli, Danfoss, Delta, Mitsubishi, Parker, Schneider, Vacon, WEG and Yaskawa.

Details of these launches and other developments announced at the show can be found in this report and elsewhere on this Web site.


Baumüller has a new range of three-phase synchronous motors in a choice of kit or housed formats. The scalable, high-performance-density DSE motors (shown below) cover the power range 0.25–15kW and will run at up to 9,000 rpm. The company has also extended the torque range of its DST2 high-torque motors with two new frame sizes, taking the top rating up to 60kNm (at speeds of up to 300 rpm).

Baumüller has also added a new frame size to its b maXX 2500 series of decentralised drives, offering peak torque levels of 10Nm, a top power rating of 6.5kW, and a five times overload factor. Finally, the company was promoting a digital encoder version of its single-cable motor-drive connection system, previously only available in a resolver version.

The Italian manufacturer Bonfiglioli Riduttori used SPS to launch a family of high-power-density servo inverters covering power ratings from 0.25–400kW and voltages up to 690V. The ANG (Active Next Generation) drives (below) have built-in PLCs and offer functions including a synchronous positioning mode with cubic interpolation and brake control. They can control servo, induction and synchronous reluctance motors and support several Ethernet-based buses.


Bonfiglioli also unveiled a family of modular, six-phase/12-pulse inverters covering power ratings from 200–1,200kW at voltages up to 690V. The IP54-protected ACU8 cabinet drives include a liquid-cooled, fan-free version which saves space and is suitable for heavy-duty applications. The drives offer PLC functions and volumetric flow control for fan and pump applications.

B&R Automation has expanded its Acopos P3 family of servodrives by adding two-axis modules that feed braking energy back into the power supply in applications such as machine tools and conveyors. B&R says that with just 500W of regenerative braking, the modules could pay for themselves in one year.

Danfoss has announced a successor to its well-established VLT 2800 drive. The new VLT Midi Drive FC 280 (shown below) covers power ratings up to 7.5kW. It has pluggable connectors, built-in DC coils and RFI filters, and dual-channel STO functions. It is said to be easy to set up and use.

The Taiwanese automation supplier Delta launched a series of general-purpose, modular drives which offer both closed-loop PID and sensorless modes for controlling permanent magnet and asynchronous motors. The IP54-protected C2000 drives cover 0.75–90kW at 230V or 0.75–450kW at 360V, and offer built-in braking to 30kW on the 460V models. The drives support various communications options and provide a CANopen master function for controlling up to eight slave drives.

Also making its debut on the Delta stand was the CP2000 series of drives for fans, pumps and similar applications, with outputs from 0.75–400kW. A multi-pump facility can manage up to four pumps, while sensorless vector control adjusts motor outputs in HVAC applications with changing torque conditions. The auto-tuning facility saves energy and eliminates vibrations caused by sudden stops and starts.

Delta Line, the Italian small motors specialist, had several new brushless models on show, including two Fulling three-phase, 57mm-square motors which, it claims, deliver up to 36% more torque than rivals on the market, while being smaller. The eight-pole 57BLSH motors offer up to 0.6Nm of torque and 188W of power. Delta line also had a high-speed brushless motor called Fullmax, in diameters from 27–49mm, that delivers up to 4.5Nm of torque at speeds of up to 40,000 rpm.

Eaton’s novel DE1 variable-speed starter, which made its debut at the 2014 SPS show, has been joined by a new version (called DE11), which connects directly to CANopen (in addition to the original support for Modbus and SmartWire-DT). Eaton says that this will open up new applications. Plug-in control terminals enable pre-assembly, saving time and money.

Kollmorgen’s AKD-N distributed servo system can now deliver currents up to 12A, effectively doubling its output to 4.8kW. Ratings of its AKD-C central rectifier units have also been doubled to 20kW.

Mitsubishi Electric has collaborated with Toshiba to develop a range of modular, medium-voltage drives which, they claim, probably have smallest footprint in their class. The MVe2 drives, which come with regenerative braking as standard, cover ratings from 200kVA, 3.3kV to 5MVA, 11kV, and can fit in a shipping container. The 10/11kV versions have a direct motor feed, avoiding the need for the transformers used in rival drives. A separately locatable front-end transformer section can be positioned conveniently and linked to the inverter by a few cables.


Parker has made significant enhancements to several of its drives ranges. For example, it has extended the power ratings of its AC10 230V three-phase drives up to 15kW, while extending the ratings of the IP66 version of the AC10 (below) up to 90kW. Parker has also introduced its DSE Lite control software to the AC10 family.

In addition, Parker has added new functions to its AC30 modular drive series, including three new interchangeable control modules. The drives, which cover ratings up to 250kW in seven frame sizes (with a 500kW model due in 2016), now offer 1588 time-synchronised peer-to-peer Ethernet, Ethernet IP and Profinet as standard. Web pages can be embedded, giving access to drive analytics and smart connections. There is a dual-encoder feedback option and an encoder failure over-ride function that provides bump-less fall-back to open-loop control if a motor encoder fails, allowing lines to continue running until they are serviced.

Pilz is now offering a Profinet interface for its PMCprotego D and PMCtendo DD5 safe servodrive systems. The PMCprotego S safety card can be used to add safe motion functions, cutting set-up times and maintenance costs, according to Pilz.

Portescap unveiled a new generation of its Athlonix high-power-density brushed DC motors with an efficient coreless design, and an optimised self-supporting coil and magnetic circuit. The 22mm-diameter motors are available with precious metal or graphite commutation, and deliver up to 6.5mNm of torque.

Among the arrivals on Siemens’ vast stand, occupying a whole hall at the SPS show, was a series of efficient, servo geared motors (Simotics S-1FG1), designed for use with its Sinamcs S120 converters. The motors (below) are available with helical, parallel shaft, bevel and helical worm gearboxes, with up to 25 ratios. The low-noise motors with low torsional backlash are available with ready-made signal and power cables.

Siemens was showing several motors for machine tool applications, including the naturally cooled Simotics S-1FT7 compact synchronous servomotor which can deliver 90–170Nm of torque but uses less power than previous models. The powerful Simotics M-1FE2 built-in spindle motor in size 180 uses permanent magnets to achieve high torque densities. It has a 200mm internal diameter.

Siemens is now offering 400V versions of its Sinamics G120P cabinet converters in power ratings up to 560kW. The converters, with a claimed efficiency of more than 98%, have built-in functions for cascading pumps, multi-zone control and smoke extraction. There is a choice of power consumption optimisation techniques.

One of the handful of UK exhibitors at the SPS show was Sprint Electric, which was demonstrating extensions to its XLV range of miniature, fast-responding DC motor speed controllers designed for use with permanent magnet brushed DC servomotors. The latest models are rated at 4A, 8A and 12A. The compact four-quadrant drives can motor or brake in both directions of rotation.

Stober has enhanced its EZHD family of hollow-shaft synchronous servomotors using a new bearing technology that supports much higher shaft loads. The motors (below) also have integrated brakes and there is a new model at the bottom end of the range. Despite a large internal diameter, the backlash-free motors have high power densities thanks to their orthocyclically linear-wound coils.

The German drives specialist TQ-Systems has launched a compact servo inverter for low-voltage (12–100V DC) applications with outputs up to 3.4kW. The RoboDrive SBD-40-100 drives weigh just over 1kg but can handle currents up to 40A. They run at cycle frequencies of up to 100kHz and can operate low-inductivity motors while minimising ripple.

Trio Motion Technology from the UK was demonstrating a combined 64-axis EtherCat controller and PC that gives machine-builders motion control and Windows or Linux PC functions is one compact box. The PC-Mat 64 device is based on a four-core Intel Atom processor and is the first in a family of similar devices that Trio is planning. The motion and PC functions run on their own cores without needing real-time Windows extensions.


Trio has also extended its range of machine motion coordinators with an 8/16-axis model called the MC508. It supports most encoder formats and uses hardware-based encoder interpolation to extract speeds from standard encoders up to 100 times more accurately than usual, especially at low speeds.

WEG has added a new frame size to its CFW500 series of VSDs, covering the power range 18.5–22kW. The drives have built-in micro-PLCs with pre-programmed macros for positioning, timing and acceleration. WEG has also developed IP55-rated enclosures for its CFW701 VSDs with ratings from 5.5–110kW, 220–480V. An enhanced cooling system ensures that the wall-mounting VSDs will operate reliably, even under full load. Finally, WEG has launched an easy-to-install, plug-in EMC filter for its CFW100 minidrives which, it claims, are the smallest VSDs with built-in PLCs on the market. The filter will allow the 180–750W drives to be used in applications not equipped with group filters.

New from Yaskawa are 400V versions of its new-generation Sigma-7 servomotors, which it launched in 2014. The 400V models (below) have removable quick-coupling plugs for easy wiring. Their book-style housing allows gap-free, side-by-side installation. The motors, covering the range 0.5–15kW, are said to be 20% smaller than their predecessors.

Vacon, now owned by Danfoss, is continuing to develop products bearing its own name. At the SPS show, it launched extensions to its Vacon 100 family of VSDs including enclosed versions, a 690V range (covering ratings from 5.5–800kW in modular, wall-mounting and enclosed versions) and additions to existing modules.


B&R has added a series of 37.5mm-wide controllers to its X20 system. There are five variants of the Compact-S controllers, some with cycle times as short as 400µs. Where a real-time network is not needed, the two smallest variants use Fast Ethernet and can achieve cycle times of 2ms or 4ms. The controllers (below) are equipped with USB, Powerlink and Gigabit Ethernet interfaces and can be expanded using X20 interface slots.

B&R was also showing a new generation of IP65-protected swing-arm operator panels fitted with multi-touch widescreen panels from 15.6–24”. The Automation Panel 5000 systems allow either pendant or pedestal mounting and can be mounted up to 100m from a PC using B&R’s Smart Link Display 3 cabling technology.

Beckhoff announced a pair of entry-level industrial PCs – the C6905 control cabinet PC and the CP6706 panel PC with a built-in 7” display – which, it claims, deliver best-in-class performance at a low price. The IPCs are powered by Intel Atom processors with up to four cores, allowing them to perform complex control, motion and visualisation applications. They include 2GB of RAM, dual Ethernet adapters, 4GB CFast cards and four USB ports.

New from ifm electronic is a failsafe PLC that integrates two separate controllers: one handles safety-related applications to SIL 3 / PL e; the other operates as a standard PLC. The smartPLC’s two controllers communicate with each other so that complete plant controls, including safety functions and visualisation, can be implemented on one device. The Codesys-based controller (below) can be used as a machine controller, protocol converter, data-logger, or AS-i gateway, for example.

Lenze has launched a series of multi-touch operator panels that can be used to carry out safe two-handed operations. The v800 terminals are available in two formats – IP65 panel PCs or embedded panels – and are said to be easy to set up and navigate. They are available with screen sizes upwards of 13.3”.

Phoenix Contact was showing a new generation of its Valueline industrial PCs, in both box and panel formats. The fan-less PCs are available with a choice of processors and USB interfaces. The panel versions have touchscreens from 15.6–21.5”. Phoenix also has a new line of 10-point touchscreen HMIs in the same size range, which can be connected to IPCs up to 15m away. The Basicline displays can be used in environments where vibrations could cause problems for panel PCs.


Pilz has added a new high-performance base unit to its PNOZmulti 2 configurable control system for safety functions. The PNOZ m B1 has no I/O. Instead, expansion modules tailor the system to an application. Up to eight can be connected to its right-hand side. There are two built-in Ethernet ports and the controller can be connected, via modules, to various communications systems.

Bosch Rexroth has enhanced the performance of its IndraMotion MLC control system which links motion, robotics and logic control with high-level programming, making it suitable for Industry 4.0 applications, including hydraulic as well as electrical tasks. There are three variants. The IndraControl XM2 embedded version offers modular expansion, while the IndraControl L75 version is aimed at high-end applications. The IndraControl VPB40.3 is an IPC-based platform which offers a Windows 7 operating system running in parallel with a hard real-time system for controlling up to 99 axes.

The Israeli controls manufacturer Servotronix introduced a motion controller which, it claims, has the smallest footprint in its class. The softMC 3, for systems of up to four axes, uses the Linux operating system with real-time extensions to ensure precise coordinated motion. It connects to servodrives and I/Os via EtherCat or CANopen.

Siemens has expanded its compact IP65/67 Simatic ET 200AL I/O system to include modules with M12 connectors, higher output currents (up to 2A), longer maximum distances between modules (up from 10m to 15m) and safe tripping of actuators to SIL2. Siemens has also expanded its range of 19-inch rack PCs to include the entry-level Simatic IPC347E version in five configurations.

Another new arrival at Siemens is a compact mobile control panel (Simatic HMI KTP400F) with a 4” colour display and an illuminated emergency stop button. There is also a new range of IP66K stainless-steel monitors (Simatic Inox Pro) and panel PCs (Simatic Ex OG) for use in special environments.

Sigmatek was showing a range of multi-touch operating panels than are just 48mm deep. The ETT HMIs have dual-core processors and come in five sizes from 8.4–19”. Sigmatek also has a new range of cabinet-mounting industrial PCs (IPC221) with Celron processors and up to 8GB of RAM.

Softing has developed a gateway that provide OPC UA server functions for Siemens’ S7 PLCs, giving them access to IT systems. The dataFeed uaGate SI is configured via a Web interface.

Stober has added a pair of high-performance motion controllers to its MC6 family. The cabinet-mounting MC6x05 and touch panel MC6x15 are based on 2.4GHz dual-core i3 processors and can link to peripherals via EtherCat or USB 3.

Turck claims to have the first block I/O module that combines standard and safety I/O in one device. The IP67 TBPN Profinet/Profisafe module (below) has two safety inputs, two safety channels that can be used as inputs or outputs, and four I/O for non-safety signals that can switch up to 2A. Two of the I/Os can also be connected as IO-Link masters.

Turck has also added new IP67/69K modules to its block I/O range of devices with the Aida connector system for use in the automotive industry. Simple push-pull Ethernet and power connections are achieved without using screws.

Wago has expanded its I/O-System 750 by adding three eight-channel analogue input modules that are just 12mm wide. As well as a thermocouple module, there is one for 0–10V and ±10V inputs, and another for 0–20mA, 4–20mA and 3.6–21mA inputs. Each input can be configured individually. Wago also has a new range of touchscreen displays in sizes from 4.3–10.1” for Web-based applications. The e!Display 7300T panels provide visualisations using either Codesys 2 or Wago’s e!Cockpit software (based on Codesys 3).


ABB used SPS to launch a motor controller for fixed-speed single- and three-phase applications up to 1kV AC. The UMC 100.3 controller (below) combines the functions of electronic motor protection and control, fault diagnosis, and communications via Profibus DP, DeviceNet or Modbus RTU, as well as Modbus TCP or Profinet via Ethernet networks. ABB has also extended its pTSX soft-starter capabilities %%PAGE_BR%%to handle currents up to 1,250A.

The Italian sensor-maker Datalogic was showing two new ranges of safety light curtains. The Slim family covers 34 heights (150–1,200mm) and three resolutions (14, 24 and 34mm), and can be embedded into machines where space is limited. Datalogic claims that its new SG4-H curtains are the first to offer stainless-steel housings and glass windows. The IP65/69K curtains are aimed at hygienic applications subject to frequent cleaning with corrosive detergents.

Eaton has announced its first fuse-equipped NH switchgear that can be connected to its SmartWire-DT system as standard. This is achieved by plugging a communication module into the NH XNH fuse disconnectors, allowing the fuse status, switch position, and power values to be monitored, and the data transmitted via gateways to all common fieldbuses. The switchgear, available in four sizes and with one to four poles, also includes a LED to indicate fuse failures.

The safety specialist Euchner had several new arrivals on its SPS stand, including: a transponder coded safety switch with a solenoid and built-in evaluation electronics (CEM-C40); a version of its CTP safety switch that can be used directly with AS-Interface Safety at Work installations; a variant of its CKS electronics key system that support AS-i; a version of its MGB guard locking and monitoring system for safety doors that supports EtherNet/IP (below); and a modular version of its EKS access management system that has a Profinet interface.

Euchner also announced a series of expansion modules for its MSC modular safe control system that are designed to safely monitor speed, standstill, speed ranges and direction of rotation.

The UK’s Fortress Interlocks unveiled a pair of devices aimed at hygienic and food applications: the amGardncs coded, non-contact proximity switch with an IP69K stainless-steel housing, for use where precise guidance of guards could be difficult; and the amGardS40 stainless-steel interlock. Fortress was also showing a Profinet/Profisafe communications module for its amGardpro interlocks.

New from Kübler is a module for monitoring voltage, current and temperature safely. The Safety-M EMIO.SAI.200 can monitor and process two analogue signals simultaneously, and generate a safe signal from them. It can, for example, monitor minimum and maximum values.

Leuze has developed an RFID-based safety locking device which cannot be opened by a similar device. The IP67/69K L300 series actuators, which can have millions of different encodings, can produce a locking force of up to 7.5kN and comply with SIL 3 / PL e. Leuze also announced a safety laser scanner which provides 100 reversible fields or 50 reversible quads and up to 10 sensor configurations.

Murr launched a series of power connectors for motors (shown below) including an M12 version which, it claims, is the smallest and most powerful five-pole M12 connector available. The connector can handle 2 x 16A at 63V AC/DC. There is also an M15 version with reverse polarity protection of asynchronous motors up to 7.5kW, and an eight-pole M23 connector for high-performance drives and servomotors.

Other new arrivals on the Murr stand included a series of emergency-stop and reset buttons with M12 ports, claimed to save time and eliminate errors, and new three-phase Emparro power supplies for 24V applications, which have an efficiency of up to 95% and a claimed MTBF of about 1,000,000 hours.

Rittal says it has doubled the luminous power of its enclosure lighting, as well as providing more even lighting, by adopting an innovative LED-based technology. It adds that the enhanced lighting will make assembly and servicing easier. The new lights use the same electrical and mechanical connections as %%PAGE_BR%%Rittal’s previous enclosure lighting.

Rittal has also developed a system for monitoring its NH fuse-switch disconnectors in LV distribution installations. The Smart Monitoring System includes data recording and evaluation electronics, and a communications module that can send readings of current, voltage and active power to a controller via CANopen or Modbus RTU. Wiring is minimal and the system can be retrofitted to RiLine60 NH disconnectors.

Rockwell Automation announced a motor control centre that is available with a pre-installed, configured and validated EtherNet/IP network infrastructure. The user interface for the Centerline 2500 MCCs (below) can also be pre-configured, saving users up to 90% on development, commissioning and installation times. The MCCs are type-tested with more than 1,000 individual tests and Rockwell claims that it is the first supplier to test VSDs in MCC enclosures.

Schmersal has developed a family of eight multi-function safety relay modules each of which, it says, can replace several dozen existing safety relay modules and are suitable for applications up to SIL 3 / PL e. Each Protect SRB-E module can be configured for up to 11 different applications, making it easier for machine-builders to choose the right module for an application. They can monitor any conventional safety sensor or electromechanical safety equipment. 

Schmersal has also extended its range of solenoid interlocks with the failsafe AZM400 bolt interlock which can deliver a clamping force of up to 10kN, has a motorised locking pin, and operates on the bistable active principle. The interlocks, which use RFID coding, are suitable for large, motorised safety doors.

Sick has new generation of safety laser scanners that use a patented measurement principle to provide a scanning angle of 275 degrees and a range of 5.5m in a compact device. New software has been produced to configure the microScan 3 scanners “intuitively”.

Siemens has added new versions and capabilities to its Sentron 3VA series of MCCBs, which now covers rated currents up to 250A and includes starter protection versions. The 3VA2 series is also now available in motor and starter variants that protect drives against short-circuits and overloads. Siemens has also added 50mm-wide, 5A and 70mm-wide, 10A rail-mounting power supplies to its Sitop family. They operate with an efficiency of up to 91%, and can deliver 1.5 times their rated current for 5s.

WEG has updated its CSE series of IP66 command and signalling devices with new pushbuttons and contact blocks that, it says, will cut installation times and costs by up to 66%. The modular, click-mounting contact blocks can be combined to suit an application and assembled without tools. The range includes dual and triple 22.5mm pushbuttons that combine the functions of two or three individual buttons.

Weidmüller was demonstrating an alternative to conventional techniques for distributing power to small three-phase motors based on distribution boxes and terminals. Its compact SAI MVV 1:1 motor power distributor (below) uses a simple star topology to power up to four 750W, 400V AC motors with 12A per phase. The controller and motor protection switches can be mounted in a cabinet or on the motor. No fuses are needed and each phase can be connected separately.

Wieland has added 22.5mm-wide timing and monitoring relays to its Flare family. The Time HM8-2U-A multifunctional timing relay has eight time ranges and four special functions, while the Control IL-1-A and UL-1-A current and voltage measuring relays offer adjustable delays for lower-limit violations, with upper and lower limits set separately.


Baumüller has expanded its range of planetary gearboxes to include helical gears for applications with high rotary %%PAGE_BR%%speeds. The BPV boxes offer lifetime lubrication, high torsional rigidity and can handle high axial and radial forces. They are available in a flange fitting variant.

Bonfiglioli was showing a new range of flanged planetary gearboxes in five sizes with a wide choice of ratios and torque ratings up to 800Nm. The TQF boxes (below) come in two backlash classes, the best being less than 3 arc-min. The gearboxes can also be fitted to BMD permanent magnet synchronous motors, saving space compared to traditional gearhead-motor combinations.

The Swiss linear motor specialist LinMot had several new arrivals on its stand, including an actuator that combines the benefits of a tubular linear motor with built-in guidance. The aluminium-bodied PO4 actuator can replace pneumatic cylinders, allowing precise, dynamic movements with strokes of up to 135mm, loads up to 255N, and accelerations up to 50m/s2.

Parker has extended its ETH family of high-thrust electro-cylinders to include versions that are Atex-certified for use in group II, category 2 explosive gas atmospheres. There are four sizes of ETH Atex cylinders (below) available that can deliver thrust forces up to 56kN, strokes up to 2m, repeatabilities to ±0.03mm, and acceleration to 15m/s2.

Schunk has developed an electric rotary gripper that combines gripping, rotation and control in a housing slightly larger than a cigarette pack. The EGS gripper allows continuous rotation without an electric loop feed-through. The angle of rotation (40–290 degrees) and the gripping force (up to 30N) can be adjusted independently. The device is powered by non-wearing brushless 24V DC motors and needs no moving cables, sliprings or shock absorbers.

Schunk was also showing a parallel gripper with a variable gripping force from 50–600N that can handle objects up to 3kg. The finger position, closing speed, and gripping force of the EGL 90 are freely programmable.

SEW-Eurodrive has a series of precision servogears in 12 sizes, capable of transmitting up to 36.7kNm of torque. The ZN.. gearboxes (below) can be mounted directly without needing a coupling, allowing precision servo gearmotors to be installed in confined spaces. The gears allow high positioning accuracy because their circumferential backlash / hysteresis loss is less than one angular minute for all sizes.

SEW has also extended the upper power range of its two-stage, helical-bevel gearboxes with two new sizes – the K..39 that delivers up to 300Nm, and the K..49 that delivers up to 500Nm.

Siemens says it has completed its couplings portfolio with new backlash-free Flender models in various sizes. The Bipex-S torsionally flexible elastomer couplings are designed for applications subject to vibration and shocks, while the Sipex metal bellows couplings are intended for drives that need angle-preserving torque transmission.

Wittenstein launched a family of gearheads for applications where “average” precision, dynamics and power density performance will suffice, and costs must be contained. The alpha Value Line gearheads (below) come in five motor-mounting variants with reduction ratios from 3–10 (single-stage) and 9–100 (two-stage), efficiencies of more than 95% at full load, and torsional backlash of up to eight arc-minutes. They can be supplied with a rack for linear applications, and a high-torque variant is available.


Balluff was demonstrating a contact-free linear displacement system that can detect the positions of two axes at the same time. The Micropulse BTL6 Profile PF transducer tolerates lateral and vertical offsets between the sensor and moving magnet of up to 15mm. the IP67 devices have a Varan real-time Ethernet interface.

Baumer had several new arrivals on its stand including a range %%PAGE_BR%%of IP69K reflector-less sensors that it claims are the only ones capable of detecting transparent objects of any shape at distances of up to 1m. The O300 and O500 SmartReflect Transparent sensors (below) have a response time of 0.25ms and offer three adjustable sensitivity levels, allowing them to detect even transparent films.

Another Baumer debut was a laser distance system that measures up to 600 values from an object and analyses them to produce accurate distance values. The multi-spot Mesax sensor takes up to 500 measurements per second at a resolution of up to 2µm, providing stable results, even in varying light conditions.

Datalogic unveiled a time-of-flight sensor with a new background suppression technology which, it claims, is the best in its class. It adds that the S65 sensor can detect objects with any surface, in any light condition, at longer distances than conventional sensors.

The German sensor-maker ifm electronic launched a series of inductive sensors for detecting metals, which it says are immune from magnetic fields, thus preventing incorrect switching. The IP68/69K sensors have a correction factor (K) of unity, so they have constant sensing range for all metals. They can detect aluminium where other sensors would have a reduced range.

Kübler was showing a hollow-shaft optical encoder with a mounting depth of just 43mm – 27mm less than the equivalent multi-turn encoder with a mechanical gear. The Sendix F883 Motor-Line encoder (below) is available with hollow-shaft diameters up to 15mm, and supports interfaces including SSI, BiSS, SinCos, and RS-422.

Also new from Kübler is a 58mm-diameter EtherNet/IP encoder for time-critical applications. The Sendix F58 encoder is claimed to transmit position values five times faster than rivals and is suitable for applications with update frequencies of up to 1kHz.

Leuze electronic demonstrated a range of optical sensors that can detect objects of different materials (even deep black) under varying lighting conditions over distances from under 50mm­ to 8m with accuracies of ±30mm. The measuring (ODS 10) and switching (HT 10) sensors have a high tolerance of angle of incidence, colours, surface structure and brightness.

Pepperl+Fuchs unveiled a new generation of photoelectric sensors, including one claimed to be the world’s smallest distance sensor of its type. The R100 and R101 sensors (below) encompass both LED and laser technologies and are suitable to both detection and measurement. They include though-beam and retroflective sensors, reflection and background suppression light scanners, light barriers and distance sensors. The sensors all support IO-Link.

Servotronix introduced a range of absolute rotary encoders that use a patented non-periodic pattern and signal processing to generate both Gray codes and high-resolution absolute positions from one circular track. The 36mm-diameter, 22mm-high sensAR encoders are available as single- and multi-turn devices with a maximum resolution of 36 bits.  

Sick unveiled its first 3D vision sensor for applications such as measuring volumes and thicknesses, counting objects and sensing their positions, and monitoring the contents of containers. The TriSpector1000 (below) operates by itself without needing any programming. It uses laser triangulation to capture height profiles of objects on production lines and then generates 3D images of them. The results can be sent to controllers via Ethernet or switching outputs.

Sick was also showing a family of photoelectric proximity sensors including the world’s smallest time-of-flight detectors. The PowerProx MultiTask sensors have sensing ranges from 5cm to 3.8m and they can detect objects that are small, flat, black or shiny. There are versions with one or two separately adjustable switching thresholds, while IO-Link can be %%PAGE_BR%%used to define up to eight switching points. There are variants optimised for operating distance, speed, precision and small size.

Siemens announced a condition-monitoring system for mechanical components such as motors, fans and gearboxes, which takes the form of an expansion module for its S7-1200 PLCs and is based on its SM 1281 condition monitoring module. Up to seven modules can be combined, each connected to four vibration sensors and a speed sensor. The system can detect mechanical damage at an early stage.

New from Turck is a rugged laser sensor for detecting distance changes as small as 1mm over a range of 25–300mm. The Q4X sensor can handle black objects on black backgrounds, as well as reflective items. A built-in LED display simplifies set-up and viewing. As well as bipolar outputs, the IP67/68/69K sensors have an IO-Link interface for easy parameterisation and diagnostics.

Turck is also offering IO-Link versions of its uprox3 inductive proximity switches that allow two separately adjustable switching distances, to provide early warnings. Initial offerings include an M12 variant with a switching distance of up to 6mm, and an M18 version with a switching distance of up to 10mm.


Belden used the SPS IPC Drives show to launch several new ranges including: compact I/O modules that meet EtherNet/IP and Profinet specifications; a family of compact, customisable wireless access points; cellular routers that combine routing, security and remote access functions in one box; a Gigabit Ethernet switch that supports Power-over-Ethernet; and unmanaged Ethernet switches designed to send data over long distances.

B&R Automation has developed a remote maintenance system for diagnosing and maintaining machinery and equipment. With SiteManager installed on a machine, service technicians can access it from anywhere in the world, via an encrypted VPN connection and a gateway. Integrated digital I/O can be used, for example, to connect a key switch that must be actuated to allow access for maintenance. A firewall protects against unauthorised access.

The Ethernet Powerlink Standardisation Group and the OPC Foundation announced at SPS that they are working on a specification that will result in open interfaces between their technologies. They plan to integrate communications from the sensor layer to the ERP layer without needing any interfaces.

Harting was promoting a wireless condition monitoring system designed to overcome the problem of monitoring rapidly moving or rotating objects. A new version of its Embedded Transponder Base (ETB) can acquire analogue measurements independent of the field bus and supplier, and transfer them without wires or batteries. The ETB also monitors environmental conditions such as temperature, which can be used to optimise the process.

Hilscher and Nexcom have collaborated to develop an Internet of Things (IoT) gateway that can be used to connect PLCs to cloud platforms. The Nexcon NIO/Hilscher netIOT gateway supports Modbus TCP/IP and RTU, Profinet, Profibus, Ethernet/IP and OPC UA and has software designed to simplify network configuration. At SPS, Hilscher and Nexcom were using the gateway to send field data from a Siemens PLC to the IBM Bluemix cloud platform.

HMS Industrial Networks was showcasing a family of Ethernet/IP linking devices that allow users to connect serial, Profibus or Modbus TCP devices to Rockwell ControlLogix or CompactLogix PLCs. The linking devices (below) can be configured from inside Rockwell’s Studio 5000 software. The devices can be mounted close to connected machines, allowing connections to be established via a single Ethernet cable instead of several network-specific cables.

New from Kübler is a low-maintenance slip-ring for transmitting Ethernet signals. The 120mm-diameter SR120 slip-ring has a modular design allowing it to be expanded up to 20 channels. An %%PAGE_BR%%innovative design is said to ensure safe and parallel transmission of signals, loads, data and Ethernet signals.

Molex announced a series of IP67 modules for connecting industrial safety controllers to sensors and actuators in harsh environments. The machine-mountable Brad HarshIO Ethernet modules are designed for safety applications up to SIL 3 / PL where communication via Ethernet/IP is needed to exchange safety and standard control data and diagnostics information over a single Ethernet network. The modules (below) have 12 safe inputs and four safe outputs, supporting the connection of single- and dual-channel safety devices.

Murrelektronik was showing two series of fieldbus modules with a Profinet IRT (isochronous real-time) function, designed to process time-critical data packages to ensure that production-line operation of equipment such as synchronous motors takes place with precise timing. The tough MVK Metal modules, and the Impact67 modules for less demanding applications, can achieve 250µs update times and jitter accuracies better than 1µs.

Rockwell Automation has expanded its Ethernet switch portfolio with the Allen-Bradley Stratix 5410, which has four 10Gbit Ethernet ports and can be used as a Layer 2 access switch or a Layer 3 routing switch. The 19”-rack-mounting switch offers users a centralised point for network distribution and a high port density.

Siemens has developed a range of compact I/O modules for AS-i applications, including 17.5mm-wide versions that, it claims, are the thinnest on the market. The AS-i SlimLine modules (which also include 22.5mm-wide versions) are half the width of their predecessors (the S22.5 and S45 SlimLine modules). The IP20-protected modules include digital I/O versions as well as ASIsafe modules with safe inputs.

Siemens has also launched a high-performance (up to 44Gbps) Ethernet switch designed to link automation and office networks. The 44mm-high Scalance XR526-8C switch has 24 Gigabit ports and two 10Gb ports. Two extra 10Gbps SFP (Small Form-factor Pluggable) slots deliver the performance up to 44 Gbps.

At SPS, Softing introduced a gateway designed to integrate Profibus PA segments into control systems that support Profinet, allowing users to migrate to Profinet controllers. The pnGate PA (below) acts as an interface between host systems and field devices and performs Profinet and Profibus PA master tasks. It uses familiar tools such as Siemens PDM and Profinet Engineering Systems.

Softing is also offering a software tool that provides mobile diagnostics of industrial Ethernet networks – in particular, Profinet – for troubleshooting and acceptance testing. The busCheck Analyzer IE allows users to carry out automated acceptance tests and to create test reports.

Vipa, the German automation company owned by Yaskawa, is expanding its portfolio of networking and remote maintenance products, which it is selling under the Remote Access brand. The portfolio include five- and eight-port switches for both industrial Ethernet and Profinet, as well as fieldbus repeaters and bus terminators. 

Wago has launched a series of managed Ethernet switches that allow redundant networks to be created in industrial applications. The 852 series includes two switches, each available in two versions: eight-port 1000Base-T and four-port 1000Base-SX/LX; and eight-port 110Base-TX and two-port 1000Base-SX/LX models. All support the creation of redundant network structures, include redundant power supplies, and can be configured individually.

Wieland announced a new generation of industrial routers that can access the Internet via LANs, WLANs or mobile services. The Wienet VPN routers provide encrypted VPN connections with automatic backup connections to the Internet for secure operation. There are five Ethernet ports, a USB host, an SD card slot, two digital inputs and one digital output, as well as three antenna ports. An energy-saving mode can be activated in %%PAGE_BR%%low-power applications.


Beckhoff has developed a tool for recording and analysing process and production data. The TwinCat analytics tool stores the data in a cycle-synchronous manner using a standard data format, either locally in a controller, or in a private or public cloud. The data provides a complete time-based image of production, which can help when errors occur and allows condition analysis of the machinery. The data can be analysed online or offline and machine cycles examined for minimum, maximum and average values of cycle times.

Beckhoff is also offering a “fast, standardised route into the cloud” with its new TwinCat IoT software which supports standardised protocols for cloud communications and for send push notifications to smart devices. The software allows the cloud to be used for tasks such as pattern recognition, and condition or power monitoring.

At SPS, Copa-Data revealed a development that integrates its zenon software with the Microsoft Azure cloud platform and thus provides data from different production sites in one system, in real time. This will allow companies to compare and correlate data and display it as dashboards. They can also use zenon for company-wide optimisation and for activities such as energy management.

Lenze announced a module for its Fast application software that, it claims, will make it as easy to configure pick-and-place robotics systems as a single positioning axis. Lenze says that module is so easy to use that PLC-controlled gantries can be replaced by sequential motion commands. It adds that the module (below) can also reduce mechanical wear (compared to point-to-point positioning) and allow the use of smaller drives, operate faster, and save energy. It can also integrate with other drives such as conveyors.

Using Rexroth’s Open Core Interface for Drives, OEMs can now program application programs for its Indradrive servodrives using high-level IT languages and can also store them on external devices with the Linux operating system. In addition to the previously supported operating systems (Windows, iOS, Android and Windows Phone) users can now run control programs on Linux, cutting system costs and exploiting the benefits of the open-source operating system.

Rexroth’s Open Core engineering framework also now supports the simple-to-use Lua script language, which can be used to control robots or program axial movements. End-users can optimise machine programs without having to write a line of PLC code.

Rittal has produced an iPhone app that calculates cooling outputs for chiller installations. In four interactive steps, the Chiller app helps users to pick the ideal chiller for an application, with an output from 1–40kW.

Siemens has added new functions to version 9.0 of its Simatic Process Device Manager (PDM) to help to commission and maintain field devices. PDM is a manufacturer-independent tool for configuring, assigning parameters, commissioning, diagnosing and maintaining smart field devices using any communications standard.

Wago announced the second release of its e!Cockpit engineering software which it launched in 2015 and which supports the entire development process of Wago’s automation components.  The new release of the Codesys-3-based software adds more support for more components.

Yaskawa has added support for Powerlink to its DX200 robot control software, allowing its Motoman robots to be integrated more easily with automation systems from B&R and other manufacturers that use Powerlink. The robots can be programmed in an IEC 61131 environment and integrated with a Powerlink system. It is claimed that this will cut commissioning times and result in higher levels of synchronisation.

The next SPS IPC Drives show will take place from 22–24 November, 2016, in Nuremberg, Germany.