Polish automation trends mirror global interests

Almost every technology presented by vendors at industrial fairs is called innovative. So, are we truly living in a time of milestone technology solutions, or is “innovative” simply marketing’s favorite new term? The answer is not always easy to discern. Consider the advanced control algorithms now being introduced in programmable logic controllers.

02/01/2009


Almost every technology presented by vendors at industrial fairs is called innovative. So, are we truly living in a time of milestone technology solutions, or is “innovative” simply marketing’s favorite new term?

The answer is not always easy to discern. Consider the advanced control algorithms now being introduced in programmable logic controllers. One year ago I met with an engineering company about the implementation of the model-following control algorithm in their temperature control system. They said that it was too complex to implement. But recently I have seen some controllers with such internal model control methods included. Today, that same engineering company I met with a year ago wants to implement their model-following control algorithm as an alternative to the classic PID control. This tells me that the mindset of today’s engineer can change rapidly.

Recently Control Engineering Poland ’s editors asked the major local players about the future—in light of the current worldwide economic concerns. Their answer: Poland will have to be innovative to survive. Furthermore, Polish engineering companies don’t need to worry about the future, they need to develop their business models in line with those of Western Europe.

Based on the technologies Control Engineering Poland ’s editors have seen recently, and the discussions we’ve had with Poland’s major engineering players, here’s our take on the automation technologies and trends that will have the most impact on our market:

Measurement : We’ve seen a lot of innovations in the area of dynamic measurements. One area in particular that caught our attention is thermovibrography. This vibration measurement method is based on the thermal changes of the vibrating structure.

Ethernet : One of the noticeable trends in the world of Polish automation is the use of real-time Ethernet protocols, such as EtherCAT and Ethernet Powerlink. The price and availability of these technologies, coupled with increasing engineer awareness and increasing gateways for the most popular communication protocols is increasing the popularity of these solutions in Poland.

Simulation : Simulation of complex control algorithms has increased in Poland noticeably. Some Polish companies are already using very sophisticated simulation software to try the most complex control scenarios for their applications. Hardware-in-the-loop simulation method is proving to be an attractive opportunity to test what some might consider even the most irrational ideas without danger of destroying parts of the real process. Two of the most popular tools for this in Poland are Matlab from MathWorks and AmeSim from LMS.

Motors : In 2008, a number of applications in Poland were completed with the use of ac synchronous permanent magnet motors. And an increasing number of Polish engineers know how to program their motion control algorithms using digital servodrives. This past year also saw an increase in the number of applications completed with the use of linear motion control modules. The popularity of linear motors in Poland is increasing thanks to the decreasing price of these motors.

Advanced control algorithms : This year, the Polish market saw a series of presentations on new tools for automatic code generation for programmable logic controllers. Tools of these kinds are available in the Polish market for GEFanuc’s, Beckhoff’s and B&R’s programmable controllers.

Engineers : According to a recent article on one popular Polish newspaper’s Website: “There are 4.5 posts for each good control engineering graduate in Poland...” This translates into a lack of young, well-educated engineers with some practical skills. A number of companies have recently tried to activate the most talented young engineers with contests. Companies doing this included: Bosch Rexroth with its contest for control systems based on Rexroth’s servodrives; Mitsubishi Electric revisited its Automation Scholarship for the second year; and B&R, as a member of the Ethernet Powerlink User Group, organizes the European Industrial Ethernet Award contest.

These automation companies are also investing in university laboratories. A good example of this could be seen at a recent Bosch Rexroth mechatronic didactic test-stand, which was prepared as the master’s thesis by three students from Szczecin University of Technology.



ONLINE EXTRA

Automation Conferences in Poland

In Poland, conferences are the bridge between science and industry. Polish researchers need the practical testing of their ideas within real processes to uncover all the pros and cons of the proposed solution. Control Engineering Poland served as a media sponsor for the following:

 

- Methods and Models in Automation and Robotics

- Conference on Active Noise and Vibration Control Methods
- International Carpathian Control Conference

- School of Modal Analysis

- Protech


Author Information

Krzysztof Pietrusewicz is the editor of Control Engineering Poland. He can be reached at krzysztof.pietrusewicz@ps.pl or kp@controlengpolska.com




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