E-business, usual technologies mix at Hannover Fair 2001

Hannover, Germany —E-business, industrial information technology (IT), system solutions, microsystems, and mechatronics were joined in the spotlight at Hannover Fair 2001 by its traditional themes of factory automation, robotics, drives, and motion control. Approximately 260,000 visitors attended the six-day run, April 23-28.


Hannover, Germany —E-business, industrial information technology (IT), system solutions, microsystems, and mechatronics were joined in the spotlight at Hannover Fair 2001 by its traditional themes of factory automation, robotics, drives, and motion control. Approximately 260,000 visitors attended the six-day run, April 23-28. Most of the 7,000 exhibiting companies were pleased with the quality and business prospects of visitors, according to show organizer, Deutsche Messe AG.

Systems, solutions, images

A growing theme for giant conglomerate companies continues to be "systems and solutions" rather than products. This lofty goal is made possible, in part, by hundreds of smaller companies supplying necessary products, software, and services. Many of these supporting companies exhibited their own solutions.

An "airport" layout was the motif of Siemens ' giant, extremely busy booth. Eleven gates (or sections) detailed various "ready for take-off" technologies from its Automation & Drives and Industrial Solutions and Services groups.

"E- Business in Industry," the theme of Siemens' first-day news conference, emphasized this sector. Besides e-business tools, new offerings were on hand in integrated power, drives, and motion control. An example was Micromaster 440 expanding the power range of this sensorless vector drive series to 75 kW. Also demonstrated were the first component-based automation products for ProfiNet, including Simatic iMap, said to be a vendor-independent software tool that allows graphical linking of distributed ProfiNet components.

E-business was also high on the agenda at ABB's conference. EngineerIT Engineering Studio—a set of reusable software tools to manage development/maintenance of automation systems—was launched at the fair. It complemented ABB's wide range of exhibits from high-voltage circuit protection and process controllers to energy-efficient motors, drives, robot-based automation systems, and EngineerIT application examples.

Schneider Electric 's stand was devoted to energy distribution; PLCs and ac drives; solutions to start, control, and protect motors; and the spread of the Transparent Factory concept to wider fields, such as building automation. FactoryCast web server, an Ethernet TCP/IP communication module for PLCs, and TeSys, a new-generation of motor starters were prominently displayed.

Foundations' progress

IDA Group (Interface for Distributed Automation) updated progress on its mission to create vendor-independent, distributed automation using modular, reusable structures for machines and systems. Highlight of efforts, since IDA's founding in March 2000, was version 1.0 issue at Hannover Fair of a 100-plus page IDA communication/engineering architecture specification. This "white paper" is an ambitious undertaking that will require working out many details. An IDA conference included an invitation for expanded group membership, in part, to carry on that work.

Interests Group SERCOS interface presented an update on several developments of this communication interface for digital drives and motion control, alluding to its international "supremacy." Günter Pritschow, member of SERCOS' board (University of Stuttgart, Germany), summed up the 12-year history of SERCOS, including progressively faster transmission rates now up to 16 Mbps. Dr. Pritschow says that the new SERCON 816 ASIC allows a 0.5-msec cycle rate for 20 axes, which puts the practical "bottleneck" at the controller.

Exhibit 'briefs'

General Electric's major stand combined technologies of its various divisions, among them GE Fanuc Automation , GE Power Controls, and GE Power Management . Automation and power control solutions were the main themes. In the power control sector, offerings spanned industrial, commercial, and residential products.

Moeller's broad-based technology of power distribution, switching/protection equipment, ac drives, and controls, included integral motor-drive units up to 11 kW that are capable of operating in hazardous areas.

Among exhibits at HMS Industrial Networks was AnyBus-IC, a Profibus controller interface that is reportedly the first to include all analog and digital functions on one chip, and an extension of the AnyBus family with modules to support Ethernet/IP and OpenModbus.

Two USA Pavilions, which place small- to medium-sized U.S. companies in a group exhibit setting, were part of the show. Hannover Fairs USA organized these exhibits, along with a special group pavilion for the Power Transmission Distributors Association . U.S. companies intending to be first-time exhibitors may be interested in these venues for next year's fair, April 15-20, 2002.

For more information, Circle 346 or visit Hannover Fairs USA at www.hannoverfair.com , or visit www.controleng.com/freeinfo .

Frank J. Bartos, executive editor fbartos@cahners.com

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