SPS/IPC/Drives 2006: Motion, mechatronics, efficiency

By Control Engineering Staff December 26, 2006

Nuremberg, Germany —A record 43,000 visitors—a 24% increase over 2005—topped off positive results for the latest staging of the focused electric automation show SPS/IPC/Drives in Nuremberg, Germany, Nov. 28-30, 2006. This added to new records for number of exhibitors (1,203) and display area (77,500 sq m) as reported in Nov. 29 Daily News . Statistics aside, the enthusiastic event offered something for most electronic automation professionals. Show highlights in motors and drives, machine control, motion control, and related technologies follow.

Siemens Automation & Drives (A&D) Group’s main press conference, themed “Increase your productivity,” emphasized trends such as ultimate modularity in automation system design; energy efficiency of products (motors, drives, machinery), which now seriously affects power costs of end-users and manufacturers; and how to improve production processes through full mechatronic simulation of machine design and commissioning. Applying available virtual prototyping tools promises dramatic reduction in development times and life-cycle costs for machine developers, according to Dr. Olaf Rathjen, head of A&D Group, Motion Control Systems.

With a large perennial presence, Siemens’ stand was filled with technologies and visitors. Among product innovations was first showing of Sinamics G120 regenerative ac drive, which in its 690-V version boasts a silicon carbide (SiC) power module, enabling space and energy savings. ( See Oct. 2006 CE article about recent SiC developments .)

Another conference, entitled “Trendsetter in Automation,” took place at Siemens Airport Center in nearby Fürth. Led by Helmut Gierse, president of Siemens A&D, it provided a detailed summary of the group’s automation product portfolio and recent innovations. Gierse stressed synergistic benefits of A&D’s three-part business make-up of factory automation, process automation, and electric installation for buildings. “A&D’s three parts offer solutions and products to increase productivity of users and for future developments,” said Gierse. “Cross-fertilization between industries in a standard vertical approach can’t provide the productivity increase needed.”

Part of the conference was a demo of Siemens’ capabilities in airport automation systems—including cargo and baggage handling; power generation/distribution; and information management for airport safety, security, and operations. All six Siemens business units contribute know-how and product development to the Airport Center. Equipment for product prototyping includes three conveyor technologies (belt and tray), about 1,200 m length, controlled by decentralized servo drives. Tray technology with individually controlled dump carts is used for gentler cargo handling.

SPS/IPC/Drives is often the venue for introducing new products not immediately available off-the-shelf. A case in point is ABB Automation Product’s Machinery Drive ACMS1 targeted for a wide range of machine builder applications. ACMS1 handles synchronous and induction motors in the 0.75-45 kW range and comes with DriveStudio software extension. U.S. release is due in third-quarter 2007. ABB had many other technologies on exhibit; “a complete portfolio from servo motors to PLCs,” said Ilpo Ruohonen, ABB VP of technology drives. An IP66, 8-channel process recorder and a temperature transmitter were other new ABB introductions.

Integrated motor-drive trio
At least three more user choices for drives integrated into servo motors are heading toward production release in mid-2007. Units vary in size and application intent, but each integrates control electronics atop the motor, using the housing as a heatsink, and provides various motion functions onboard for distributed control. Bosch Rexroth ‘s IndraDrive Mi will have six models with peak torque up to 30 Nm (at 3,400 rpm), with material handling and machine positioning as initial markets. Dr.-Ing. Steffan Roland, head of product management for drive systems, told Control Engineering , “Heat transfer from the drive was a critical design issue, but was solved without the need for auxiliary cooling.” Benefits come from savings in cabling and machine space.

IDT4 integrated servo motor and drive from AMK Drives & Controls features 48 V dc supply, 24 V control, absolute encoder feedback, and CANopen interface.

Elau AG ‘s integrated motor-drive (IMD)—called PacDrive iSH Series intelligent servo module—targets packaging machines and other motion control applications. Six models (3 motor sizes) run at 3,000 rpm and output up to 28.3 Nm peak torque. PacDrive iSH features a new IGBT package; position, speed, and current control reside onboard. However, a separate controller handles motion trajectories and multi-axis coordination, explained Klaus Weyer, Elau senior VP of marketing. (Elau is a Schneider Electric company.)

Smaller IMDs from AMK Arnold Müller GmbH (AMK Drives & Controls in the U.S.) offer an unusually compact integrated electronics package. Designated AMKASmart IDT4, these units have 0.26 kW rated power at 1,000 rpm; other models run up to 3,000 rpm at somewhat lower power. “Design of these units had to solve substantial heating and vibration issues,” said AMK managing director Dr.-Ing. Günther Vogt. “IDT4 is now being incorporated into German machine builders’ systems with subsequent worldwide export.”

‘Wireless power’
SEW-Eurodrive , a company moving to change its image from components supplier to system solution provider, unveiled its EMS (electric monorail system)—a complete package for material transport applications, present and future. Demonstrated in an overhead monorail version, EMS also will be available as a mobile, horizontal transport system, according to Claus Wieder, SEW manager of geared motors and ac drives.

Operating principle of SEW-Eurodrive’s Movitrans power transfer (core of EMS transporter) is akin to a transformer. Current is induced across the airgap from a conductor in stationary rails to moving transport units. Sliding contact power transfer is offered as an alternative.

Key to the highly modular transport system is Movitrans, a contactless power transfer method dubbed “wireless power.” Propulsion for EMS’ transport units or vehicles comes from Movimot integrated gear motors and ac drives (or standard gear motors). Complementing the EMS offering are Movipro—vehicle/switch control and information transfer subsystem—and Movivison software tool that can configure/diagnose a complete plant for material movement.

Associations’ progress
Technical associations typically update their work-in-progress at this show. SERCOS International (SI) and ODVA announced that CIP (Common Industrial Protocol) Safety will be adopted as the safety specification for SERCOS—the long-standing communication interface for servo-based motion control. ODVA, manager of CIP Safety, will expand the spec to cover SERCOS devices. Jointly, SI and ODVA will develop conformance testing to ensure interoperability of multi-vendor devices using CIP Safety with SERCOS. Enhanced specifications are expected in 2007 with device implementation starting before 2008.

Peter Lutz, managing director of SI, told Control Engineering that SI elected to go with a recognized safety protocol, rather than introduce yet another one. However, Lutz emphasized, “SERCOS’ previously certified basic safety concept remains intact. SI will be developing the adapter to interface SERCOS III with CIP Safety.”

Meanwhile, ODVA and FDT group announced publication of “Field Device Tool for CIP Networks: Annex to FDT Specification,” which supplies schemas needed to apply the device type manager (DTM) option for current network versions built using CIP. Adding DTM configuration option to CIP is said to enhance the development environment for plug-and-play and network independence.

More embedded control
Embedded control had increased presence at SPS/IPC/Drives. Examples include various embedded PCs at the stand of InoNet Industrial Computer Systems and numerous single-board computer products on exhibit at stands of Kontron, MEN Mikro, Elektronik (MEN Micro in the U.S.), and GE Fanuc . No doubt the mid-2006 acquisition of SBS Technologies has added to GE Fanuc’s embedded control capabilities and offerings.

In a related area, Hungarian company Hexium Technical Development Co. Ltd . (first-time show exhibitor) showed board-level products, intelligent cameras, and software for applications requiring video signal processing, such as traffic control, security, and medical systems. A custom embedded PC motherboard with integrated peripherals is in the works.

Liquid cooling and more
Still other developments and products were noteworthy. Liquid-cooled drives and servo motors offering greater power density were shown by AMK, among others. Siemens’ liquid-cooled version of Sinamics S120 ac drive also integrated a positioning function within the unit. B&R Industrial Automation announced that its Automation Studio software tool now integrates with ac drives from Danfoss, KEB, Lenze, and Schneider Electric—enabled by Ethernet Powerlink.

Rockwell Automation ‘s displays included expansion of its Integrated Architecture production control/information system, namely added capability in the Logix platform and FactoryTalk software suite for more real-time information exchange between the user’s production and business systems. Also shown was Kinetix 6000 Safety servo drive with GuardMotion “safe-off” feature, which shuts a machine down, but not its power supply. This allows faster machine restart after unplanned downtime occurs.

Among new products from Danaher Motion were S700 digital servo amplifiers and CT Series compact, powerful hybrid stepper motors, said to develop 40% more torque than comparable motors. High-power, direct-drive torque motors also were in the spotlight at Danaher—as well as at exhibits of AMK, Baumüller, and Parker Hannifin.

Show organizer Mesago Messe Frankfurt GmbH recognizes the notable success of SPS/IPC/Drives, while it focuses on maintaining the show’s core technologies. Further dramatic growth of exhibitors is not envisioned as management believes 95% of the world’s electric automation providers are already on board. However, the show needs to capture those relatively few emerging companies that will develop and nurture future automation technologies. In the meantime the show strives to keep its core on track to have visitors coming back for more.

Next staging of SPS/IPC/Drives is scheduled for Nov. 27-29, 2007. For more information visit: www.mesago.com/sps .

Frank J. Bartos , P.E., Control Engineering Consulting Editor