Despite unusually cold weather, the world’s largest dedicated automation and control exhibition - Germany’s SPS/IPC/Drives show - managed to attract a record number of visitors to Nuremberg at the end of November. We look at some of the key technologies that were on show.
Not even a cold snap which caused chaos in parts of Germany, could halt the relentless growth of Germany’s SPS/IPC/Drives show. By the end of its three-day stint in late November, the Nuremberg-based automation and motion control exhibition had attracted more than 45,900 visitors, compared to the 43,981 who came to the 2006 event.
The show also boosted the number of exhibitors from 1,203 in 2006 to 1,321, while the average size of their stands was larger. The show occupied a total floorspace of 87,900m2, compared to 77,500m2 in 2006. There were several themed exhibits including a Wireless in Automation stand (shown below) on which 29 companies were demonstrating their wares.
The exhibition is gradually becoming more international. Some 20% of the exhibitors at the 2007 show came from outside Germany, compared to 18% in 2006. The largest contingent (51) came from Italy, followed by Switzerland (32) and Austria (22). Only a handful of exhibitors - including Parvalux, SEM and Variohm-Eurosensor - ventured from the UK.
Although the amount of exhibition space occupied by the foreign exhibitors grew by a third, it still represents just 11% of the total floor area.
An attempt to attract more foreign visitors to the show by offering them a day of English-language lectures failed - the event had to be cancelled due to lack of interest. In fact, the conference that accompanies the show is one of the few areas where SPS/IPC/Drives is failing to make headway. In 2007, it attracted 447 delegates, down from 478 in 2006.
There were few technological breakthroughs at this year’s show. But almost every stand yielded something of interest. This report summarises some of the highlights.
MOTORS AND DRIVES
Baumüller was showing a range of mini servo drives aimed at applications below 1kW. The b maXX 2x00 series (shown below) is designed to replace items such as manually operated mechanical drives, actuators with fixed start and target positions, and stepper motors used for infeed, adjustment and dosing tasks.
Baumüller has also added an encoder module to its b maXX 4400 range of drives that will detect and evaluate inputs from SSI encoders.
B&R announced a compact drive for lower-performance servo and stepper motors in the 50W-1kW range. The 63mm-wide ACOPOSmicro drive (below) has a "clever" cooling design which allows side- or back-wall mounting and offers the option of oil or water cooling via a cold plate. It is programmed using PLCopen function blocks and CNC robotics libraries.
B&R was also showing a range of compact, liquid-cooled three-phase synchronous motors with high power densities. The 8KS motors avoid the need for noisy, energy-consuming fans and come in four sizes with rated torques from 8.3-605Nm. Their rated speeds range from 1,100-2,200 rpm, and their top speeds are in the range 4,500-10,000 rpm.
Colibri was demonstrating a family of integrated "stepping motors with servo qualities". The motors incorporate encoders, controls, power supplies and Profibus, CANopen, Interbus or ASCII bus connections. They are said to be smooth-running and to offer high levels of precision, with position checking to eliminate step losses.
As well as announcing a new range of servo drives, Control Techniques launched an EtherCAT module to add to the communications options for its AC and servo drives. The SM-EtherCAT module will allow real-time, high-performance Ethernet communications. CT has opted for EtherCAT over the rival Ethernet PowerLink system as a result of monitoring the market and asking its customers what they want. The module is the first in a planned range of real-time Ethernet products, with other protocols to follow.
Danaher Motion had several new ranges on its stand including a family of "affordable", space-saving three-axis servo drives for servo, linear and torque motors. The S1300 drives, which produce maximum continuous output currents of 20A, have a sampling time of 62.5µs, allowing dynamic responses. They have bidirectional SSI interfaces, are compatible with CANopen and EtherCAT, and support EnDat and Hiperface feedback. Brake resistors, EMC filters, and safety functions such as "safe restart lock" and "safe holding brake control", are built in.
Danaher was also showing a range of small-frame, direct-drive motors (below) that eliminate the need for gearboxes, clutches and belts, thus reducing the need for maintenance and delivering an accuracy that is claimed to be up to 50 times better than conventional drive systems. The Cartridge DDR motors, with flange sizes of 108, 137 or 188mm, are said to combine the benefits of direct-drive motors (small size, high dynamics, and high torque) with the rapid assembly of enclosed motors.
Danfoss Bauer presented a compact geared motor for use in the food and beverage industry. The HygienicDrive has no cooling ribs where dirt and bacteria could accumulate, and no fan that could draw (or spew out) in germs and dirt. It has smooth, easy-to-clean surface and is protected to IP67 and IP69K. Options include brakes and encoders.
Festo was demonstrating items from its new generation of servo and stepper drives and motors. For example, it was showing two of its EMMS-ST stepper motors driving parallel axes smoothly and with almost no resonance (below). Combined with the matching CMMS-ST closed-loop controllers, these encoder-fitted steppers are said to offer a "lite" alternative to servo drives, capable of delivering precise, regulated movements, and the ability to control torque, position or power". If a master motor stops, any slaves are stopped as well, ensured that all movements are fully synchronised. The CMM-ST controllers handle tasks up to 6.5Nm.
Although Fuji Electric was not showing any new products on its Nuremberg stand, its was running a teaser campaign for a new drive that its is due to launch in the Spring called MEGA - an abbreviation for Maximum Engineering for Global Advantage.
Exhibiting for the first time under its new name, GE Fanuc Intelligent Platforms revealed a new range of servo motors and amplifiers that can be combined with its Versamax Micro motion controller for low-end position control applications. The VersaMotion servo drives (below) can also be used as standalone single-axis systems for simple indexing or electronic gear follower applications, using up to eight stored positions that are selected and triggered using serial communications or discrete inputs. The drives cover power ratings from 100W to 3kW, and continuous torques in the range 0.3-19.1Nm, at speeds of up to 5,000 rpm.
Gefran was showing a range of induction positioning motors with integrated inverters, encoders and EMC filters. The IP54-protected KFM 05 motors cover power ratings from 180-500W, torque ratings up to 2.8Nm, and operating speeds up to 2,550 rpm.
Gefran’s long-awaited new-generation SieiDrive ADV200 vector inverters, are finally expected to start reaching the market early this year. The modular drives will span a power range from 0.75kW to 1.5MW, and offer a choice of control strategies including open-loop, closed-loop and control of permanent magnet synchronous motors.
On the Emerson Electric group stand, Leroy Somer was showing a new generation of compact, high-efficiency synchronous permanent magnet motors and drives, spanning ratings from 0.25-550kW. The Dyneo PM motors are housed in IP55-protected induction motor frames (sizes 90-315mm) and can deliver up to 1,400Nm of torque, at speeds of up to 5,500 rpm. The motors operate at a higher efficiency than Eff1 machines and maintain their efficiency (as well as their torque) across the complete speed range. They are said to be up to three fame sizes smaller than comparable standard induction motors. Whereas a conventional 250kW motor would weigh around 1,500kg, a similarly-rated PM machine weighs just 400kg.
Moog was demonstrating a range of modular servodrives and motion controllers, capable of providing speed and position control of up to 30 axes using high-speed EtherCat communications. The MSD drives can handle various motor types - including synchronous, asynchronous, linear and high-torque - and can deliver 4-170A rms with air cooling, or 250A rms with liquid cooling. They can accept inputs from up to three position sensors simultaneously for precision positioning.
Nord Gear was showing two ranges of frequency inverters which, it says, can replace servo drives. The compact Nordac SK 530E inverter has integrated position control and can handle up to 15 positions. The more powerful Nordac SK 700E inverters offer position control (with up to 252 positions) as an option, and incorporate TTL and SSI interfaces for direct connection of absolute encoders.
Nord has also expanded its ATEX geared motor line-up to include Ex e (increased safety) models approved for use with inverters. The motors (shown below) are suitable for use in Zones 1 and 2, and are said to be up to 25% lighter and 40% cheaper than Ex de (flameproof enclosure) machines.
Oriental Motor was showing a family of two-phase stepper motor and drive packages which use its "smooth drive" function to deliver low-vibration operation. The RBK series microstepping drives provide holding torques up to 6.6Nm and 1.8-degree stepping angles.
New from Rexroth is a range of compact, low-power drives that offer a choice of Ethernet-based communications, including support for the Sercos III, Profinet IO (RT), EtherNet/IP and EtherCat protocols. The IndraDrive Cs drives accept inputs from most types of encoder.
Rockwell Automation was showing its Allen-Bradley High-Power Kinetix (HPK) motors, said to offer servo motor precision and performance at induction motor prices and power ratings. The motors have optimised windings designed to mimic the speed/torque curves of permanent magnet servo motors, allowing them to deliver peak torque levels twice those of their continuous ratings. The motors are available in ratings up to 110kW.
One of a handful of British exhibitors at SPS/IPC/Drives, the motor-maker SEM was highlighting its ability to develop specialised, high-speed (up to 20,000 rpm) permanent magnet motors to customer specifications. The company, which exports 94% of its production, has doubled its r&d staff over the past two year. It brand-labels motors for more than 20 other suppliers.
SEW Eurodrive was demonstrating a modular, decentralised drive control system called Movipro which is said to combine all of the required functions - including inverters, I/O, communications and power supplies - in one compact module. Other new arrivals on the SEW stand included: a range of gearmotors with integrated inverters spanning ratings from 0.37-4kW; a Profinet I/O and ProfiSafe option for its Movifit decentralised drive system; and ATEX certification for explosion-proof AC asynchronous motors combined with frequency inverters.
On its vast stand, Siemens was promoting several recent developments including extensions to its Sinamics G130 compact, modular converter range, which now spans ratings from 75-800kW. The separate controller and power module allow customised drives systems to be assembled in control panels.
Siemens has also added a "basic control unit" for standard applications to its modular Sinamics G120 series of frequency inverters. The new 240E controller can be combined with standard or regenerative power supplies to create application-specific converters in the range 0.37-90kW, 380-480V. Siemens has also extended its Sinamics G120D distributed frequency inverter family to include a version with a Profinet connection (below).
The highlight of Vacon’s stand at SPS/IPC/Drives was its microdrive aimed at OEMs that it announced last year and is now entering production in Finland and China. The Vacon 10 drive has been designed for "mass customisation". For big enough orders (typically more than 10,000 drives), customers can specify their own application interfaces and hardware modifications. Unlike most other microdrives, the Vacon 10 does not have a large external heatsink, resulting in a small footprint. It is available in 230V versions up to 2.2kW, and 400V versions up to 5.5kW.
The industrial PC specialist Advantech announced a modular motion control system including Pentium III based master modules, slave motion modules, and an embedded software package that supports PLCopen’s motion control function blocks. The AMAX master can control up to 2,048 I/O points and 64 axes. The slave modules support servo drives from Mitsubishi, Panasonic and Yaskawa. There is also a general-purpose motion slave module which includes stepper motor drivers.
Elmo Motion Control was demonstrating its SimplIQ and ExtrIQ servo control families, as well as Ethernet/IP support for its Maestro network-based, multi-axis motion supervisor.
The Swiss linear motor specialist LinMot was showing a range of servo controllers with Ethernet interfaces, suitable for controlling rotary servomotors as well as its own linear products. The E1200 series controllers come in two power ratings and are available in versions supporting ProfiNet, Ethenet/IP, Ethernet Powerlink, EtherCAT and Sercos III.
Rexroth was promoting its IndraMotion MLP "motion logic" system (below) which integrates motion synchronised control of up to 32 axes, logic control, communications and visualisation functions. To boost reliability, the system, based on an embedded PC, has no fans or hard disk drives. It uses Sercos III to communicate with drives, decentralised I/O modules and other control systems.
Rexroth was also showing technologies for controlling up to 32 hydraulic and electromechanical axes in real time. For example, the decentralised, scalable HNC100-3x controller can handle up to four electrohydraulic axes. For more complex installations, the MAC8 controller can cope with up to 32 axes. Rexroth also produces compatible electrohydraulic axes which can accelerate at up to 80G, reach speeds of 10m/s, and achieve positioning accuracies measured in microns (depending on the measuring system used).
Rockwell Automation was demonstrating a compact eight-axis controller which supports the use of various network cards, including DeviceNet, ControlNet and Ethernet/IP. The scalable Allen-Bradley CompactLogix L45 controller (below) is aimed at low- to mid-range applications and uses the same programming and other tools as other members of the Logix control platform.
Siemens has added a single-axis controller to its portfolio. The Simotion D410 integrates PLC and drive control functions, allowing it to automate complete machines. Up to four fast cam outputs or three probes can be implemented using its onboard I/O. As well as being suitable for single-axis applications such as winders, cross-cutters and feeders, the controller can be used in synchronised systems. It offers a choice of Profibus or Profinet communications.
CONTROLS, PLCs AND HMIs
Beckhoff has added three new controllers to its Bus Terminal system which now encompasses more than 250 different types of I/O terminal and supports 17 fieldbus and Industrial Ethernet protocols. The new controllers can be operated as standalone PLCs or as decentralised intelligence in Ethernet networks. The BC9120, 9020 and 9050 controllers vary in cost and complexity, with the top model including two Ethernet ports that act as a two-channel switch, allowing I/O stations to be daisychained, rather than using a star topology.
Beckhoff was also showing a 57mm-wide, mid-range embedded PC, equipped with a 500Mz Pentium processor. The DIN-rail-mounting CX1010 PC (shown below) comes in several versions with the most basic offering 256Mb of RAM, an Ethernet interface, a 64Mb Compact Flash card, and the options of embedded Windows CE or XP operating systems. Beckhoff has also released a software module that turns any of its industrial PCs or embedded PCs into Profinet masters.
On its spacious stand, B&R was showing two new industrial PC ranges. The powerful APC810 uses Intel’s Core Duo processor, includes a Gigabit Ethernet interface, and offers both PCI and PCI Express expansion slots. Power consumption is low enough to allow fan-less operation. For less demanding applications, the APC620 offers a choice of processors from Celeron M to Pentium M 1.4GHz and runs Windows XP Embedded. It can be used with up to four displays, located up to 160m away.
The Swiss industrial PC specialist Digital-Logic was showing a range of ultra-compact PCs for distributed control applications. The Microspace MPC21 PCs measure just 165 x 110 x 46mm, and need no cooling fan.
Another industrial computing specialist, the German company EEPD, was showing a fan-less panel PC with an integrated 15-inch display, based on its Profive N15 single-board computer. The plug-and-play Profive Vision Panel PC 15 is powered by Pentium M processors up to 1.4GHz and offers wireless communications as an option.
Gefran is offering a family of operator panels with a choice of screen sizes from 6.5-10.4 inches. The GF_VEDO panels share a common programming environment called Gefran Automation Builder.
Horner APG was demonstrating the smallest (DIN96 format) and lowest-cost member of its Operator Control Station family. The XLt OCS (below) has a 3.5-inch touchscreen and can be expanded to support up to 4,096 digital and 1,024 analogue I/O points. Optional communications modules include support for four-band GPRS modems.
Most of Horner’s X series of control stations are now available with CANopen communications which are configured using a free IEC61131-3-compliant software package.
Mitsubishi Electric used SPS/IPC/Drives to launch four compact, entry-level control terminals with 5.5-inch touchscreens. The IP67-protected GT10 terminals come with integrated recipe management, alarm display, setpoint value entry and password protection functions. The switchable backlight is available in two colour combinations: green, orange and red; or white, pink and red. The terminals have 1.5Mb project memories, support serial communications up to 115kb, and are available with drivers not only for Mitsubishhi PLCs and drives, but also for common controllers from other manufacturers.
Phoenix Contact has added Sercos III analogue and digital I/O modules to its Inline Block range, allowing users to connect sensors and actuators quickly to a Sercos network. The analogue module has four inputs and two outputs that can be configured independently of each other. The digital version has 16 inputs and 16 combined inputs and outputs that operate simply by connecting a sensor or actuator. They are said to be fast enough to be used in motion control applications.
Phoenix has also developed a compact inline controller (shon below) with an integrated GSM/GPRS cellular phone modem allowing process data and error messages to be monitored remotely. It can also be used to link distributed controllers. Other new arrivals on the Phoenix stand included: an IP20-protected Profinet bus coupler designed to link up to 62 I/O modules with Ethernet; and a modular bus coupler that can connect a modular local bus station to a Profinet I/O network or to receive digital signals.
Rexroth has upgraded and expanded its ranges of industrial panel and box PCs. The company guarantees a minimum five years of serviceability for its industrial PCs including the new IndraControl VSP and VPP panel PCs which cover most applications and offer up to six free slots. The box PCs can be linked to up to four displays located up to 80m away.
Rockwell Automation has enhanced its Allen Bradley MicroLogix 1100 controller family to offer faster speeds and expanded communications capabilities. The controllers have an onboard Ethernet Web server that can notify users of faults via email. A built-in text display can be used to monitor and change data values. A version is available for use on 12V supplies.
Siemens was offering several new industrial PCs in notebook, panel and box formats. The Simatic Field PG M2 programming device is a rugged, magnesium-housed notebook with a 15-inch display, built-in wireless communications, and industrial interfaces. The 14cm-deep Simatic Panel PC 577B is available with various touchscreens from 12-19". The Simatic Box PC 827B is designed for continuous 24-hour operation in ambient temperatures up to 55°C.
The German company Vipa was showing its latest Speed7-CPU PLCs that use Siemens’ STEP7 programming language, but are claimed to be up to 30 times faster than Siemens’ own S7-300 and S7-400 controllers. It adds that these are the first PLCs to be configured using a MMC memory card. The controllers’ memory can be adapted dynamically to meet the needs of an application without changing the processor hardware, allowing OEMs to use just one type of CPU for all applications. Profibus-DP master functions and Ethernet communications are built in.
Woodhead Industries was promoting a pair of interface modules that make it easy to connect Modbus networks to Allen-Bradley ControlLogix controllers. The BradCommunications SST modules act as I/O devices that share I/O data with the controller’s memory without needing to write any ladder logic. They can also act as gateways, for example, reading the data from a serial Modbus slave and writing it through an Ethernet Modbus TCP port. One version offers four independent RS-232/485 serial ports; the other has two serial ports and one Ethernet port.
ELECTRICAL AND SAFETY
On its stand at SPS/IPC/Drives, ITT Cannon was promoting its family of two-in-one servo motor connectors which replace two conventional circular connectors but occupy only half the length and a third of the height, and weigh half as much, as the conventional connectors. The CmX connectors are installed easily in four steps, and use a new clamp technology designed to minimise the space needed for cable strain relief, shielding and sealing components. There are several versions of the IP67-protected connectors for different power (up to 40A) and voltage connections, with varying numbers vif power and signal contacts.
The Swedish safety specialist Jokab launched a module that combines AS-i master and safety monitor functions. The Pluto AS-i can monitor up to 31 safe and non-safe nodes as well as control outputs. It can also be used to monitor a safety system in a traditional way with a separate AS-i master. Up to 32 Pluto AS-is or other Pluto safety PLCs can be connected in a network using CANbus. The AS-i module also has 13 regular I/Os, four of which can work as analogue inputs.
Leuze Mayser has introduced a pair of coupling modules that allow its Solid2 and Soild-4E safety light curtains to be connected to AS-i networks. The ASKM2 module converts the sensor signals into AS-i data, as well as providing power via the AS-i cable. The ASKM1 module allows electromechanical devices such as emergency-stop buttons and light curtains with relay outputs, to be connected to AS-i.
Moeller added an 18.5kW contactor to its Eco series with the claim that it is considerably smaller (45 x 85 x 97mm) than conventional contactors of this rating (typically 55 x 115 x 132mm). The DILM38 contactor, which uses an optimised contact design with high-performance materials, has a rated operating current of 38A, and a claimed lifespan of 750,000 operations.
Omron launched a series of magnetically coded, non-contact switches for guard door interlocking duties, which have built-in controllers to monitor their operation, thus avoiding the need for separate external controllers. The FS3-TGR-N switches (shown below) are designed to interlock hinged, sliding, or removable guard doors and conform to Cat 4 of EN 954-1. They are available in plastic or stainless steel housings.
Among the new arrivals on Pilz’s stand was an IP67-protected digital input module for the SafetyBus p system that can be installed on a machine without needing a control cabinet, to monitor safety functions at the field level and send them to Pilz’s PSS programmable safety and control system. The module has 16 safe inputs that can be used to connect single- and dual-channel safety devices, with or without test pulses. The module is said to cut planning and installation time and costs.
Pilz has also developed an analogue input module for its PNOZmulti configurable safety system. The 45mm-wide module has two inputs that can be used to monitor 20mA current or 10V voltage signals from transducers or encoders. Up to eight limit values can be defined for each input.
Rittal has expanded its RiLine60 busbar system to include a four-pole version. There is a trend towards four-pole designs in EMC-critical applications and such systems are already standard for LV distribution in Ireland, France and Belgium. The four-pole design can be used to compensate for the effects of power supply disturbances, as well as for special applications - such as operating two DC busbars in parallel. The standard version handles current up to 800A, while a Plus variant can handle up to 1.6kA.
Rockwell claims to be offering the first safety I/O module to support Ethernet/IP. The CompactBlock Guard I/O device is designed to detect failures at the I/O and field device level, while enhancing operator protection. The module communicates over the Ethernet/IP network using the CIP Safety protocol and can be used with Rockwell’s GuardLogix-TM controller or other safety PLCs that support the CIP Safety protocol over Ethernet/IP.
Sick announced a laser safety scanner with a 270-degree scanning angle that can provide all-round protection if two scanners are installed on opposite corners of a machine. The S100 scanner can be used to detect objects, monitor distances and prevent collisions, and can replace several standard sensors in some installations. It has a range of up to 10m, depending on the reflectivity of the scanned objects. There are two versions: the Standard model, with two switching fields and adjustable object resolution; and the Professional, offering either eight fields with an angular resolution of 0.5 degrees, or 16 fields with a resolution of 1 degree.
Sick has also launched two ranges of single-beam photoelectric safety switches that can be connected directly to safe controllers. The L2000 and L4000 switches offer ranges of up to 60m, and operation to Cat 2 or 4.
Siemens has developed a range of soft-starts which work with two-phase polarity balancing, for soft starting motors up to 250kW, 400V. The Sirius 3RW40 soft-starts have built-in motor overload protection, avoiding the need for an external overload relay. Models up to 55kW are available with optional thermistor motor protection.
Siemens has also introduced an ASIsafe module that allows safety sensors with electronic outputs - such as light grids and curtains - to be integrated with AS-i networks. The plug-and-play module, which uses prefabricated cables, can be used to supply power via the AS-i cable.
Weidmüller has expanded its FieldPower distributed power system by adding a decentralised maintenance switch (shown below) that allows individual machines and plant components, as well as motor feeders and drives sub-circuits, to be isolated from the power supply, to allow maintenance work to be performed safely. Users no longer need a separate maintenance switch or junction box. An auxiliary contact allows PLCs to scan the position of the switch.
Weidmüller also announced a range of solid-state relays designed to act as switch amplifiers for actuators up to 2A, 24V DC. The 6.1mm-wide MicroOpto Actor relays can switch inductive loads such as solenoid valves and contactors.
MECHANICAL AND LINEAR
Baumer has developed a range of compact geared actuators and positioning drives which can deliver multi-turn positioning with a resolution of better than 0.02 degrees. The 42mm-diameter FlexiDrive MSIA positioning drive, and the 46mm-diameter FlexiDrive MSQA servo drive cover power ratings from 6-238W and offer the options of hollow end and through shafts. They have CANopen interfaces.
Festo was promoting the energy efficiency of some of its products including a new range of servo-powered axes with trapezoidal threaded spindle drives. The compact DMES axes can deliver forces of up to 1kN.
The Swiss linear motor manufacturer LinMot has developed a range of high-performance linear motors that deliver a 50% increase in peak force compared to the company’s standard motors of a similar size, yet cost just 10% more. The company attributes the improved performance - include a 20% speed boost and a 70% increase in continuous forces - to a combination of improved windings, optimised magnetic circuitry, better heat transfer, and the availability of more powerful magnets.
Linmot has also incorporated some of its motors into bridge guides to create compact linear modules, that can be used as direct replacements for pneumatic actuators. The guides, which incorporate ball bushings or sleeve bearings, absorb external forces, torques and bending moments, and prevent rotation.
Rockwell Automation was demonstrating its Allen-Bradley MP series of integrated linear stages that are claimed to save time and costs for machine-builders by avoiding the need to buy separate components from different suppliers. The stages are available in either ballscrew or direct-drive linear motor versions, allowing designers to pick the right stage based on its performance.
SENSORS AND MEASUREMENT
Baumer has developed a rugged absolute multi-turn encoder, based on a patented combination of magnetic single-turn sensing and non-contact multi-turn scanning, which provides correct position values even without external power. The Magres BMMH 30 encoder has a flange diameter of just 30mm, and Baumer suggests that it can be used as an alternative to incremental encoders and potentiometers. It offers a 25-bit resolution via an SSI interface.
Members of Schneider Electric’s CST (Custom Sensors & Technologies) division shared a stand at Nuremberg. BEI Ideacod was showing several new encoders, including a range of ATEX-approved intrinsically safe incremental encoders, and encoders combined with mechanical overspeed switches. Britain’s Newall Measurement Systems was demonstarting a couple of new digital readout systems as well as a new-generation incremental linear encoder with sub-micron resolution that is considerably smaller than its predecessor.
Sensing specialist ifm electronic had several new ranges on show in Nuremberg, including: a distance sensor with a 75m range, which can be used in daylight and has two outputs, one of which can be analogue; a failsafe inductive sensor that detects metal parts without needing a magnetic target or coded actuator; an inductive, inline flow sensor with a built-in four-digit display; and a M12-based system for making safe connections in hygienic and wet areas in food plants.
Jumo was demonstrating a wireless temperature measurement system with a transmitter designed as an insertion probe with the transmitter in the waterproof handle. The Wtrans system spans temperatures from -30°C to +260°C. The DIN-rail-mounting receiver can handle up to 16 transmitters and has four analogue (4-20mA, 0-10V) outputs.
New arrivals on Kübler’s stand included: a series of 24mm, 14-bit absolute single-turn encoders with analogue, SSI or CANopen outputs; a new generation of rugged, compact, non-contact magnetic measuring heads for linear and rotary applications; and a draw-wire measuring system (shown below) for applications from 0.25-40m, capable of moving at speeds of up to 10m/s and accelerating at up to 140m/s2.
On its stand, Leuze electronic unveiled a new generation of photoelectric sensors including a tiny model (32 x 11 x 17mm) which the company claims is the world’s smallest retro-reflective photoelectric sensor, and is capable of detecting components just 0.1mm in size. The family also includes two larger sensors which are said to provide reliable detection over distances of up to 18m, even in dusty atmospheres. The sensors incorporate a technology to identify and suppress spurious light sources. Several sensors can share the same reflector.
Leuze was also showing a range of photoelectric sensors in stainless steel housings, designed for use in washdown and hygienic applications.
Omron was demonstrating several new sensing technologies including its recently launched ZFX vision sensor which guides the user through a three-step set-up procedure via interactive menus on a built-in touchscreen. This process includes: choosing which of 20 inspection tools you wish to use; selecting the inspection regions; and setting the inspection parameters. No PC is needed for set-up, operation or maintenance.
A second Omron innovation is a laser profile sensor with 18 tools for calculating heights, widths, angles and areas. The ZG sensor is set up via an icon-based menu on a built-in colour LCD monitor. The sensor will measure profiles up to 70mm wide and can be set to have a sampling time as short as 5ms.
Omron was also showing a sensor that can detect the colour of a component, marking or semi-transparent object, allowing items to be sorted by colour, or incorrectly coloured parts to be rejected. The E3X-DAC-S sensor compares reflected light with a stored RGB ratio, and compensates automatically for variations in light intensity and distance.
Pepperl+Fuchs has developed a new oscillator for its "reduction factor 1" sensors which can detect all types of metal at the same range. The new version has a 50% longer switching distance of 12mm for sensors housed in 18mm-diameter cylindrical sleeves.
P+F was also promoting a non-contact position encoding system (below) that operates to an resolution of ±0.4mm over measuring lengths of up to 314m, a speeds of up to 12.5m/s. The accuracy of the wear-free system is not affected by variations in temperature.
A third P+F announcement concerned a hollow-shaft encoder with a sin-cos output, designed for lift applications where standard incremental encoders do not offer enough precision to ensure a smooth ride.
Phoenix Contact has a new line of current transformers in almost 3,000 different designs. The PACT MCR devices convert AC currents of up to 4kA on the primary side to 1A or 5A AC on the secondary side. This can be used to generate a 4-20mA or 0-10V analogue signal for processing by a PLC. The CTs can be attached to busbars or snapped onto DIN rails.
Sick Stegmann announced two new ranges of encoders in which the distance between the bearings has been increased to reduce vibrations. The VFS60 hollow-shaft encoder is aimed at asynchronous motor applications at speeds of up to 12,000 rpm. Insulation between the motor shaft and encoder boosts its immunity to interference. The 60mm encoder for shafts up to 15mm can achieve counts of up to 65,536 per rotation.
The second version, the DFS60 incremental encoder has the same resolution and is available in through shaft and blind hollow shaft versions, in six diameters from 8-15mm.
From Siemens comes a machine vision camera which can perform up to 3,600 analyses per minute. The IP67-protected Simatic HawkEye 1600T camera includes Ethernet and RS-232 interfaces and eight digital I/Os. There are versions with XGA and VGA resolution.
On its stand at SPS/IPC/Drives, Weidmüller was demonstrating a universal signal conditioner and trip amplifier which accepts a wide variety of variable inputs - including currents, voltages, frequencies, and temperatures - and isolates, conditions, linearises them before transmitting them as standard current and voltage signals. The Wave TTA (transmitter trip amplifier) also has two relay outputs with configurable switching thresholds for alarm functions.
Beckhoff has developed a port multiplier for real-time Ethernet networks that allows several different protocols - including EtherCat, TCP/IP, Profinet and Ethernet/IP - to be operated simultaneously on one controller. Unlike an Ethernet switch, the CU2508 multiplier enables precisely timed transmission and reception of Ethernet frames using distributed clocks. The device (shown below) has a Gigabit uplink from a PC, and eight independent 100Mb/s output channels. Each of the eight ports can support any real-time Ethernet protocol.
Beckhoff has also expanded its EtherCat I/O system to allow fibre optic communications over distances of up to 2km (compared to 100m using standard Ethernet cable). The system supports a variety of topologies - line, ring, tree and star.
GE Fanuc announced a new range of wireless communications products that, it claims, will cut installation, configuration and support costs. The TranSphere Wireless products offer extended-range IP networking, wireless IP/Ethernet connections, Ethernet and serial radio modem communications, and wireless remote I/O for analogue and digital I/O signals. The system supports multiple users, connecting to multiple applications, via multiple protocols.
Harting claims it is the first company to offer ring redundancy on the basis of unmanaged Ethernet switches connected in a ring. Its sCon switches are said to simplify configuring and operating networks. Unlike most unmanaged switches, the sCon switches can be configured via a USB port, allowing new configurations to be transferred to the switch in a matter of seconds. They also provide parallel redundancy.
The Swedish communications specialist HMS Industrial Networks used the SPS/IPC/Drives show to launch a configurable Ethernet/IP-to-Profibus gateway that allows field devices on a Profibus network to communicate with devices on a Ethernet/IP network, and vice versa. The DIN-rail-mounting X-gateway (shown below) operates as an adapter (slave) on the Ethernet/IP network, and a master on the Profibus side. It incorporates a Web server for remote diagnostics and visualisation. Up to 124 Profibus slaves can be linked to the gateway.
HMS has also developed an intelligent protocol converter for connecting automation devices to EtherCat networks via their serial interfaces (RS-232/422/485). The Anybus Communicator is designed to allow devices without EtherCat interfaces to be linked into EtherCat networks.
At Nuremberg, Mitsubishi Electric was showing its first products to support the recently announced CC-Link IE Gigabit-speed, Ethernet-based open communications system. These initial products include a network module for the company’s Melsec System Q automation platform, as well as a network interface card for PCs.
Pepperl+Fuchs has developed a segment coupler designed to provide transparent, easy-to-implement communications between Profibus DP and DA systems. The Profibus Power Hub does not require any configuration. It also delivers power to field devices, while adjusting automatically to communications speeds on the DP side.
The Californian communications specialist ProSoft Technology was showing several wireless communications products at the SPS/IPC/Drives show including: a high-speed Ethernet/IP module for Rockwell’s ControlLogix controllers; an IP66 (water-resistant and dust-proof) 802.11abg transmitter supporting Power-over-Ethernet, which can be used as an access point, repeater, or client in harsh environments; and a device that offers high-speed wireless Ethernet communications including Ethernet/IP, Modbus TCP/IP and DNP over Ethernet.
Weidmüller introduced a pair of converters for integrating devices with serial interfaces into networks. The WaveLine ComServer converters are configured via a Web browser. One converter offers a single, non-isolated RS-232 interface; the other has two non-isolated RS-232 interfaces as well as isolated RS-232 and RS-232/422/485 ports.
From Woodhead comes a family of 30mm-wide, IP67-protected modules for connecting CANopen networks to I/O devices. The BradControl modules have eight ports and support both PNP and NPN inputs. A universal version offers eight points of configurable I/O, which the user can set as inputs, outputs or both. The modules are designed to act as slave devices in CANopen control systems, gathering signals and data from field devices.
At SPS/IPC/Drives, Danaher Motion announced a software suite which, it claims, will revolutionise machine control by simulating complex processes involving more than 200 axes. The Motion Suite is said to simplify the optimisation of machine performance and to shorten commissioning times dramatically. It links the three main functions of a control system - collection and monitoring of machine data, logic, and motion control - with the flow of data between these functions taking place in real time. Machines can be programmed simply by describing their functions and the mechanical relationships between components, using graphical description blocks (shown below). According to Danaher, a few clicks are enough to simulate all of a machine’s internal processes, no matter how complex, and thus to determine the right settings and to eliminate problems before commissioning.
Phoenix Contact has developed a software add-on for Eplan’s design software which helps users to plan their field cabling. The Pluscon Field Project package uses pre-defined macros to select matching sensor/actuator boxes and cables automatically. The software even takes the sensor connections into account when choosing the cabling. The details are exported to Eplan.
Rockwell has developed a historian software package that helps manufacturers to identify, gather and configure detailed data from any control system or HMI software. The FactoryTalk Historian Site Edition (SE) discovers all of the controllers and HMIs and their associated data points automatically, and presents the information to the user for review. The software is based on a distributed, tiered architecture that allows staff at different levels to view and analyse the data from their own perspectives. For example, operators can view the data from the machine they are using, while supervisors can view machines or complete lines in real time to asses how batches and processes are performing.
Another new arrival from Rockwell is its FactoryTalk AssetCentre tool designed to streamline change management and to help manufacturers to make better use of their automation assets. The software gathers, manages and secures data on items such as control systems, drives and HMIs, allowing manufacturers to respond rapidly to production changes or problems. It also tracks users’ actions, manages configuration files, configures instruments, and provides backup and recovery of these configurations.
Sick has added a package called StandardManager to its range of software for safety engineering. The software checks whether the standards and directives being applied in a project are current, by referring to a regularly updated online database containing more than two million data sets. StandardManager can also be integrated in the CE conformity process as a supplement to Sick’s Safexpert 5.5 software.
The 2008 SPS/IPC/Drives show will take place in Nuremberg from 25-27 November.