A bridgehead at the other end of the new Silk Road
The HARTING Technology Group is one of the 21 founding members of 'Robotation Academy Foshan', which is working with HANNOVER MESSE to promote transformation processes in smart manufacturing in China.
In a world where commercial and industrial processes have long since become globalized, people have developed a range of strategies for dealing with each other. While some retreat into isolation - out of fear or a realization they can't keep up with the global machine - others have a more outgoing approach based on a desire to learn from each other and create a common framework. The HARTING Technology Group – a pioneer in Industry 4.0 solutions - certainly belongs to the latter group. As a founder member of 'Robotation Academy Foshan', it is nurturing the transformation process for smart manufacturing in China.
Over recent years, Foshan, a metropolis that is home to more than seven million people in the Province of Guangdong, has become one of China's leading industrial centers. Recently established there in collaboration with HANNOVER MESSE, the 'Robotation Academy' brings together 21 companies from the fields of robotics, automation and Industry 4.0. By hosting and organizing courses, conferences and presentations on future technological trends, the Academy aims to bring companies in Guangdong bang up to speed with the latest developments. "The Academy is an amazing springboard for HARTING staff and customers who want to put technical theory into practice. The partnership with the 'Robotation Academy Foshan' gives HARTING the opportunity to expand smart manufacturing expertise and technology in south China, which is a key region for HARTING," explains Ellen McMillan, General Manager HARTING Greater China.
One of the first projects the company is running at the 'Robotation Academy' is the presentation of HARTING MICA (Modular Industry Computing Architecture). MICA is a rapid and user-friendly tool for implementing digitization processes in plants and machines. Thanks to its open, modular system, HARTING MICA can be adapted to specific customer requirements using the relevant hardware, software and special interfaces.
HARTING Deutschland GmbH & Co. KG (32427 Minden, Germany), Hall 11, Stand C15
Contact: Michael Klose
Tel: +49 5772 47-1744
Introducing the nano switch - just two atomic bonds long and one atom wide!
An international research team from the Christian Albrechts University in Kiel (CAU) and the Donostia International Physics Center in San Sebastián, Spain, has created a molecular wire that can also regulate current.
Regular visitors to HANNOVER MESSE will know that increasing miniaturization in electronics is set to produce components that consist of only a few or even singular molecules. Linking these components at nano level to an electrical circuit will call for tiny wires like those that the international research team from the CAU and the Donostia International Physics Center are creating from a single molecule. The wires in question are just two atomic bonds long and one atom wide. If that’s not amazing enough in itself, the scientists have just discovered that these molecular wires can also regulate the current!
In other words, they work like a nano power switch, which will make them useful in electronic components at nano scale in the future. "This is the simplest molecular wire imaginable - thinner and much shorter is not possible," the Kiel physicist Torben Jasper-Tönnies explains. Just as with larger circuits, both ends of this nano wire must be connected to a metal electrode so as to measure the flow of current. However, there are no metal clips small enough to create electrical contacts at this scale. "Electrically contacting individual molecules in a nano circuit is a problem that has not yet been resolved satisfactorily and is widely discussed in the research community," Jasper-Tönnies says. He points out that the scientists developed a new wire consisting of only a single molecule so as to enable an electrical contact, adding: "The special thing about our wire is that we can install it in a vertical position on a metal surface. This means that one of the two required contacts is already effectively built in to the wire." The research team used a scanning tunneling microscope (STM) to create the second contact required.
During the measurements they were able to conduct this way, the researchers also found that quantum mechanical forces act between the metal tip of the STM and the nano wire, which can be used to bend the wire mechanically. The striking effect is that the current is reduced if the wire is only slightly bent, but increases if there is a strong bend. As Jasper-Tönnies explains, "By bending the wire, we were able to switch the current on or off. Although our wire is so simple, it behaves in a very complex way, which surprised us!"
Kiel University/CAU (24118 Kiel, Germany), Hall 2, Stand C07
Contact: Dr. Boris Pawlowski
Tel.: +49 431 880 3004
HIWIN GmbH is responding to customer demand for ever more powerful, efficient and robust motors with a new fast-moving water-cooled torque model based on the popular TMRW series.
HIWIN GmbH is a specialist in standard and customer-specific drive solutions. The company’s product portfolio features linear guideways, ballscrews, linear, torque and servo motors and complete positioning systems, including linear motor axes, rotary tables and belt and spindle drive axes. As it has its own production facilities in Germany, HIWIN is able to ensure short delivery times and optimum quality. The latest achievement by HIWIN's engineers is a new fast-moving water-cooled torque motor for particularly demanding applications based on the popular TMRW series.
The innovations are not apparent from the exterior - that is to say, the stator - of the new TMRI direct drives. However, the grooved high-performance internal rotors form an assembly with a laminated magnet carrier in the center, instead of the previous homogeneous steel component. This ingenious feature has broken the previous upper speed limit thanks to the reduced eddy current losses. HIWIN’s engineers have also arranged the permanent magnets in the rotor in such a way that the magnetic flux density rises, with the TMRI torque motor also reaching a new level for torques as a result. The new drives thus offer higher speeds and torques and greater efficiency than the existing TMRW series.
HIWIN GmbH (77654 Offenburg, Germany), Hall 15, Stand A06
Contact: Alessa Spothelfer
Tel.: +49 781 932 78 707
There's something in the air!
Iron-air batteries promise a considerably higher energy density than present-day lithium-ion batteries, and their main constituent - iron - is cheap to acquire. Scientists from Forschungszentrum Jülich are among the driving forces in the renewed research into this already familiar concept.
Until very recently, the main focus when it comes to energy has been on how to generate it. A mix of coal, nuclear power and hydropower - to name only the biggest energy suppliers - can be pretty easily adapted to meet needs. However, all that has changed dramatically in Germany since the decision to abandon nuclear power, move away from coal and promote electromobility - with the end result that energy storage has become crucially important. For decades, there has been little or no progress on mobile energy storage - i.e. batteries - in particular. That makes a recent press release from interdisciplinary research institution Forschungszentrum Jülich all the more encouraging, as it points to a possible renaissance for iron-air batteries.
For reasons including insurmountable technical difficulties, research into metal-air batteries was abandoned in the 1980s. Now, however, interest in this particular research area is really starting to pick up. Working in partnership with Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the US, researchers from Forschungszentrum Jülich have succeeded in observing with nanometer precision how deposits form on the iron electrodes during operation. A solid understanding of charging and discharging reactions is the key to developing this type of battery to the market launch stage. Iron-air batteries are predicted to have theoretical energy densities of more than 1,200 Watt hours per kilogram. By comparison, present-day lithium-ion batteries come in at about 350 Wh/kg if the weight of the cell casing is taken into account. Iron-air batteries are thus particularly interesting for a multitude of mobile applications in which space requirements play a large role.
Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH (52428 Jülich, Germany), Hall 27, Stand D68
Contact: Stefan Apweiler
Tel.: +49 2461 61 3777
Men on a mission
Three students at Saarland University are using sensors to make reflector posts so smart that they can detect people driving the wrong way. The budding engineers are currently competing in the international iCan student competition in Beijing with their "Ghostbuster" prototype.
"Ghostbuster" is essentially a solar-powered sensor system. It is designed to detect people driving the wrong way and instantly warn them and other road users, as well as alerting the police and radio traffic information services. The early warning system is described as cost-effective by its developers and can be installed in reflector posts along the edge of the road. "In combination with various sensors, the system tracks passing cars and detects if they are going the wrong way," explains Daniel Gillo, who is studying "Microtechnology and Nanostructures" at Saarland University in Germany. The budding engineer developed the sensor system in conjunction with his fellow students Benjamin Kirsch, from the same department, and Julian Neu, who is studying Systems Engineering.
"An infrared motion sensor is integrated in the upper part of the reflector post and tracks every movement within a range of around eight meters. The sensor is in continuous operation, but consumes little energy. Solar cells supply the power," explains Gillo. All the measuring data from the sensors is collected by a microcontroller inside the reflector post that is smaller than a matchbox: "This is where the information is evaluated and processed. Various filters refine the measuring results and make them even clearer," explains Kirsch. The microcontroller then controls the subsequent processes: "Light signals can be triggered on warning signs, emergency signals can be transmitted or warning messages can be sent as texts," adds Kirsch. "Different interfaces can be controlled, depending on what further action is to be taken. The system can be expanded as required." The sensor system has already successfully passed various tests on the university campus and won its first awards. In June this year, the "Germany - Land of Ideas" initiative and the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure presented the students with the 2017 German Mobility Award ("Deutscher Mobilitätspreis"). An expert panel of 16 judges selected their project as one of ten "flagship projects for safe mobility" from around 170 entries. After successfully applying for an EXIST startup grant from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs, the three students are now setting up a company at the Entrepreneurial Campus Saar with support from the Office for Knowledge and Technology Transfer of Saarland University (KWT). If Gillo, Kirsch and Neu can now also come out on top in Beijing - and teams of students from around the globe are taking part in the iCan competition - they may soon be able to put a stop to people driving the wrong way all over the world.
Universität des Saarlandes (66123 Saarbrücken, Germany), Hall 2, Stand B46
Contact: Friederike Meyer zu Tittingdorf
Tel.: +49 681 302-3610
Gardening under the sea? Get a grip!
The Bionics department at FESTO AG has examined how the tentacles of octopi work and successfully incorporated their findings into their new OctopusGripper.
The octopus is a fascinating creature - and it isn't just Ringo Starr, the drummer from the Beatles who sang about his desire to visit an Octopus's Garden, who has taken a keener-than-usual interest in the eight-armed aquatic wonder. Indeed, the Esslingen-based control system and automation specialists at FESTO are also impressed - albeit for completely different reasons. As an octopus doesn’t have a skeleton and is almost entirely made of soft muscle tissue, it is extraordinarily flexible and maneuverable. That means not only can it swim nimbly in any direction, but it can also get a secure form-fitting grip on a huge range of objects. The bionics experts at FESTO are now replicating this phenomenon for themselves and have developed the OctopusGripper.
The bionic gripper consists of a soft silicon structure whose movements are controlled by an integrated pneumatic system. If the air pressure in the tentacle is increased, it folds in on itself, thereby creating a form-fitting grip on an object. Just as on its counterpart in nature, the inside of the silicon tentacle features two rows of suction cups. While the small suction cups at the tip of the gripper are passive, a vacuum can be applied to the larger ones, thereby ensuring the object is held tightly by the gripper. This means the OctopusGripper can pick up and hold a whole range of different shapes. Since it is made from soft material, the artificial tentacle has a gentle but secure grip and also satisfies the strict criteria for soft robotics components and thus has great potential for the collaborative working environments of the future.
FESTO AG & Co. KG (73734 Esslingen, Germany), Hall 15, Stand D11
Contact: Martin Beier
Tel.: +49 711 347- 3801
To meet the demand from designers of robotic joints for motors that are not just powerful but also lightweight and compact, maxon motor ag is now offering its brushless flat motors as frameless kits.
A key feature of the motors used in robotics is their high torque. This is the only way for arms and grippers to move with the required dynamism. Yet these motors also need to be lightweight and as compact as possible to ensure they can be optimally integrated into the structure of robotic joints. It's little wonder, then, that standard solutions are often simply inadequate. That's why Swiss drive specialist maxon motor has developed an alternative for the growing robotics market and is now offering its BLDC motors as frameless kits.
The rotors and stators for the frameless motor kits are supplied separately, without bearings or motor shafts. The components are not connected till the assembly stage, which gives customers the best of both worlds - high torque density and minimum volume. With external diameters of 43 to 90 millimeters, the brushless flat motors in the EC flat series are extremely compact. As they are designed as external rotor motors, they also offer plenty of space inside for cable glands. To ensure the motors are easy to control, maxon equips them with hall sensors. Whether or not a solution with frameless motor is suitable needs to be determined on a case-by-case basis. The specialists at maxon are thus on hand with their advice and expertise to help customers make the right decision.
maxon motor ag (6072 Sachseln, Switzerland), Hall 15, Stand D09
Contact: Thorsten Buurlage
Tel.: +49 7641 9114 0
New lease on life for joysticks
Althen GmbH Mess- und Sensortechnik is responding to the strong growth in demand for industrial joysticks by expanding its product range with joysticks built using IECEx-certified components (ATEX).
Although most people encounter their first joystick when using a games console, they actually date back as far as World War II. The devices thus have a much more serious history than their name might suggest. As "control signal generators with moving steering rods", the first joysticks guided German air-to-air missiles remotely toward their targets. Fortunately, the vast majority of today’s joysticks are used in peaceful applications, and there are clear signs from the market that industrial joysticks are becoming increasingly important as input devices at the interfaces between humans and machines. This was reason enough for Althen Sensors & Controls - a specialist in sensor technology, measuring systems and process automation - to draw on the portfolio and years of expertise of its sister company Altheris and expand its product range in this area. This now also includes joysticks built using IECEx-certified components (ATEX), thus making them suitable for use in potentially explosive areas and ensuring they help prevent explosions instead of triggering them.
The growth in demand for industrial joysticks, which has been particularly strong in the last few months, is being accompanied by a desire for professional quality in relation both to the components involved and the production processes. The potentiometers used have been greatly enhanced in terms of their durability, noise and precision. The result is a much longer service life, with up to ten million movements. "For state-of-the-art operating concepts, we offer a comprehensive selection of finger, thumb and hand joystick models. From straightforward operations, where a switch is activated for each direction of movement, to multilevel configurations, our joysticks are designed for applications ranging from the smallest of spaces to heavy industry. We always adapt them precisely to the specific requirements," says Fred Balser, Product Manager Vibration, Acceleration and Industrial Joysticks at Althen.
Althen GmbH Mess- und Sensortechnik (65779 Kelkheim, Germany), Hall 11, Stand E46, Partner at AMA Zentrum für Sensorik
Contact: Heike Baumann
Tel.: +49 6195 7006-0
Breathtaking trace oxygen analyzer
The XZR400 from Michell Instruments is a high-precision analyzer for measuring trace oxygen in pure inert gases such as nitrogen, argon, helium and carbon dioxide. It monitors purity in gas production using cryogenic air separation.
Oxygen isn't just an essential part of the air we breathe - as a nonflammable but highly reactive element of other gases, it also plays an important role in the safety and performance of gas mixtures. However, in certain pure inert gases such as nitrogen, argon, helium and carbon dioxide, the oxygen component should be kept to a minimum. To measure even the smallest traces of oxygen in these gases, Michell Instruments GmbH - a world leader in humidity and dew point measurement - has now developed the XZR400 oxygen analyzer and launched it onto the market.
The XZR400 is so accurate that it detects oxygen components down to 0.01 ppm (parts per million) and can therefore be used to monitor purity in gas production using cryogenic air separation. Michell's MSRS zirconium oxide sensor with integrated metallic reference ensures long-term repeatability of measurements. The MSRS sensor technology doesn't require reference air, is non-depleting and gives the sensor a long service life of over seven years. Calibration is only necessary every three to six months and only needs to be performed with one reference gas, thus saving time and money. The XZR400 series is available in four configurations - rack integrated, wall-mounted, bench-mounted and transportable. All models include an intuitive touchscreen interface for quick and easy operation and barometric pressure and digital flow meters as standard.
Michell Instruments GmbH (61381 Friedrichsdorf, Germany), Hall 11, Stand B72
Contact: Evelyn Adrian
Tel.: +49 6172 591720
From trade fair premiere to success in application
The new automatic rotor mounting system from IEF-Werner GmbH uses components from the modular MOVI-C automation range launched by SEW-EURODRIVE in April at HANNOVER MESSE 2017.
In the age of the smart factory, many industrial processes are already largely automated, including synchronous motor assembly. One of the key steps in this process is mounting permanent magnets onto the rotor. This is where Furtwangen-based IEF-Werner GmbH comes in - a highly specialized manufacturer of components and systems for automation technology, including turnkey systems for fully automated processing. The rotor mounting system uses the latest technology from the MOVI-C modular automation range launched earlier this year as the focus of the SEW-EURODRIVE GmbH & Co KG stand at HANNOVER MESSE 2017.
The cornerstone of the rotor mounting system is a rotary indexing table with four positions. In the first position, the rotor is clamped in a mobile support with two mandrels. This process can be carried out manually or with the help of a handling robot. In position two, a plasma laser is used to remove any oil or contamination using a technique that does not damage the equipment or the environment. In the third step, a two-axis linear handling system positions the glue nozzle against the rotor, which is secured in a vertical alignment. The cross-section of the laminated core is many-sided, and the adhesive is applied to its external surfaces as a smooth bead of glue. The rare earth magnets are transported to the system in blister packs. A gantry system with a suction device removes the magnets and deposits them in a row on a small conveyor belt. Depending on the length and circumference of the rotors, a gripper then takes hold of the required number of magnets from above and presses them onto the adhesive at a predefined pressure.
SEW-EURODRIVE GmbH & Co KG (76646 Bruchsal, Germany), Hall 15, Stand F12
Contact: Stefan Brill
Tel.: +49 7251 75-2525
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