SPS/IPC/Drives 2004: Another ‘Novemberfest’ for electric automation

Nuremberg, Germany —“Novemberfest” has been used once before in these pages to describe the happenings at SPS/IPC/Drives Exhibition and Conference, an annual electric automation show held here since 1997, after its relocation from near Stuttgart.


Preparations are underway for the 2005 show.

Nuremberg, Germany — “Novemberfest” has been used once before in these pages to describe the happenings at SPS/IPC/Drives Exhibition and Conference, an annual electric automation show held here since 1997, after its relocation from near Stuttgart. The “festival” superlative is worth repeating for this year’s event (Nov. 23-25, 2004), which continued a steady growth. New marks were again established for number of visitors at 31,800 (up 15% from 2003); exhibitors at 1,032 (rising 12%), and display space of 65,000 sq m (over 694,000 sq ft)—an increase of 23%. Seven halls in Nuremberg’s Exhibition Center were used for the first time.

Statistics aside, the scope of technologies (controllers, electric drives, motion systems, sensors, computers, software, and industrial communication) brought together at this focused show for electric automation professionals has essentially no parallel anywhere else today. Moreover, a typical SPS/IPC/Drives show provides opportunities to assess technology trends. Among the trends: more choices for integrated motors and controls (open and closed loop) as well as for direct-drive linear/rotary motion systems; distributed control architectures on the rise; and increased usage of industrial communication networks, along with safety systems. Coverage of industrial networking, particularly Ethernet, and safety considerations appeared in December 2004 Information Control and Discrete Control

Integrated motors and controls

Numerous manufacturers displayed motors and controls integrated into one package—featuring different motor types and open- as well as closed-loop control.

Bonfiglioli Riduttori exhibited its LMD line of integrated motor-inverter drive, featuring various sizes of induction motors with a worm-gear reducer.

Cooper Tools ’ offerings included a decentralized intelligent servo (DIS) drive with direct-mount capability to three-phase synchronous motors and permanent magnet dc motors for torque, speed, and position control.

Elau AG showed its PacDrive integrated servo motor/drive intended for Gen3 packaging machines intended for liquid filling, capping, labeling, and related applications. PacDrive has gained attention after its recent successful showing at PackExpo in Chicago, according to Marco Rüb of Elau corporate communications. For more information on Pac Drive on Control Engineering , click here .

Emotron appears to lead the pack with the highest power output available on the market for vector control variable-frequency drives (VFDs) integrated with induction motors up to 22 kW. (That’s almost 30 hp!). Competing products top out at 7.5 kW.

Lenze’s GKS-motec features a helical-bevel gear motor (ratios of 1.5:1 to 1,500:1) combined with an electric drive.

GFC AntriebsSysteme , an Auma Group company, showed several integrated motor and controller combinations. One example was a compact electronically commutated motor, drive, and gearbox unit with up to 100 Nm (885 lb-in.) maximum torque output, CANbus and RS-232 interfaces and various I/O choices are available.

Lenze is another manufacturer that places VFDs directly in the production process with its combination integrated motor, gear reducer, and controller provided as one unit. Its 8200 motec drive mounts in various configurations to induction motors in the 0.25 to 7.5 kW range. A variety of networking options also are offered.

Among various automation products, SEW-Eurodrive exhibited its Movimot product line, which combines an induction motor and sensorless vector control VFD in one industrial package. Motors are available with and without gear reducers.

Driving loads directly

Direct-drive motion connects a motor to a driven load without intervening ball screws, pulleys, gearboxes, timing belts, or other components. Many suppliers displayed direct-drive products, including Bosch Rexroth, Etel, IDAM (INA Drives & Mechatronics), LinMot, Oriental Motor, among others. Direct-drive linear motion control was particularly prominent, somewhat of a surprise relative to the present market size for this technology.

DS28 Direct Mount servo motor from AMK offers short stack lengths and convection-cooled (TENV) housing.

At AMK Arnold Müller (AMK Drives & Controls Inc. in the U.S.)—a manufacturer of ac servo drives, controllers, VFDs, and special-purpose motors—direct drive means “direct mount.” Its new AMKAsyn rotary Direct Mount synchronous servo motors are intended for printing and converting machines. They feature hollow-shaft construction, constant power range up to 1:10, and rated torques up to 650 Nm (480 lb-ft).

Tecnotion BV , a Dutch company, showed a variety of linear motors (iron core and ironless) as well as linear motor drive systems. Tecnotion claims high-positional accuracy for its direct-drive motion products, even without the use of a formal sensor (feedback device).

U.S. company Copley Controls showed its ServoTube and ThrustTube line of direct-drive linear motors and actuators. A built-in noncontact sensor in ServoTube eliminates the need for a linear encoder. ThrustTube features a non-cogging, ironless-core linear motor, though an iron-core motor version is an option to obtain higher output forces.

VFDs and more

A profusion of variable-frequency drives from European manufacturers is a hallmark at a typical SPS/IPC/Drives show. So it was momentarily curious to see E-Trac WF2 sensorless vector drives from TB Wood’s Inc. on exhibit in Berges Electronic ’s booth. Actually, Berges is TB Wood’s European subsidiary and a manufacturer of VFDs and related hardware/software products in its own right.

Also represented by local distributors were a number of other U.S. motion-control companies, for example, Animatics , Cleveland Motion Controls , and Galil Motion Control .

As SPS/IPC/Drives grows and matures, proactive measures will be needed to care for potential “growing pains.” Show management will require added vigilance to keep contents on track and balance various conflicting issues that all trade exhibitions face going forward. Next year’s event is scheduled for Nuremberg, Nov. 22-24, 2005.

There is also good news for American automation professionals. Anticipation continues to surround an upcoming daughter show—SPS Electric Automation America—which is set to make its debut in Rosemont, IL (suburb of Chicago) during May 24-26, 2005.

Control Engineering Daily News Desk
F rank J. Bartos, executive editor

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