Automation Shines At 2016 IMTS

Hannover Messe brought a slice of its automation trade show to this year’s International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS)—a venue known for huge machine tools. This was the second time, and it seems to be gaining some traction. Most exhibitors seemed to be central European, but there was a presence from a number of other North American automation companies not to mention many from Asia.

I stopped by a large number of stands. Below are five that had press releases new for the show. Opto 22 was at the show with an opportunity to see its recently released product with a RESTful API in the real plastic, so to speak. That plus a promised MQTT support maintains Opto’s usual spot as an early adopter, if not first adopter in many cases, of IT technologies in its OT products. I also stopped by to talk with Tom Burke and Stefan Hoppe at the OPC Foundation stand. Its news was reported here last week.

(My two-day silence was caused by travel to California and participating in the Inductive Automation Ignition Customer Conference. More on that later.)

Companies addressed below:

  • Dell Technologies
  • Beckhoff Automation
  • Bedrock Automation
  • Universal Robots
  • Carbon (3D printing)

 

Dell Technologies

Appearing at IMTS in the automation hall for the first time, Dell Technologies showed its IoT Gateway and Embedded capabilities along with several partners that help it provide a complete Internet of Things solution from data collection through storage, analysis, and uploading to the cloud.

The major solution thrust for Dell thus far in its first year of existence has been predictive analytics especially for predictive maintenance applications. One of the featured partners was IBM Watson, using the famed supercomputer power for predictive analytics and EAP—its predictive maintenance solution.

Eigen showed a real-time quality application with in-process inspection. Some real-time analytics are performed in the gateway before sending data asynchronously to the cloud for further analysis.

Software AG, a partner from the beginning, provides a predictive maintenance software module that provided high speed streaming analytics in an ice cream factory. The module can also create service requests, see anomalies, order spare parts.

Beckhoff Automation

mx-beckhoff-arCheck me out in these cool Microsoft Hololense Augmented Reality (AR) glasses. In this demo, I could see live data streaming from a robotic application. Beckhoff also showed support for MQTT and AMQP transport technologies (it also has OPC UA embedded), an Internet of Things coupler to Microsoft Azure cloud, and power over Ethernet on EtherCat P.

 

 

Bedrock Automation

clarksville-light-water-has-implemented-the-bedrock-universal-control-system-as-a-scada-rtu-for-cyber-secure-substation-monitoring-and-controlBedrock Automation has built an entirely new automation and control platform from the ground up. Security is designed in, even to the point of designing and manufacturing its own chips. It offers single, double, and triple redundancy, IEC 61131 programming along with a powerful function block editor that brings it into the DCS world. And it features software configurable I/O, software configurable serial module (5 to a card can be RS-232, RS-422, RS-485), and software configurable Ethernet card (think Profinet, EtherNet/IP, etc.).

mx-bedrock-sps-power-supplyAt IMTS it announced its new intelligent, standalone power supply. The SPS.500 Secure Power Supply provides deep trust cyber security authentication and onboard intelligence for diagnostics and secure Ethernet communications. Encased in a NEMA 4X sealed aluminum enclosure, users of any PLC, SCADA RTU, PAC or DCS can retrofit to the new SPS.500 inside or outside enclosures, anywhere in a plant and in harsh environments.

Additional features include:

  • Ethernet and OPC/UA communications, enabling local or remote monitoring of power supply health for greater system reliability and plant safety
  • A powerful cyber secure microprocessor and onboard memory for diagnostics and software-defined functionality
  • A built-in redundancy module, which simplifies installation and increases reliability by eliminating the need for an external redundancy module
  • Two built-in, software-configurable Form C contact relays, which provide operating and diagnostic status

Universal Robots

One of the big things in automation this year is collaborative robots, or cobos. A leader in this area is a new entrant—Universal Robots. This Danish company showed its products at IMTS. It also announced two unique new initiatives.

  • Universal Robots+: an ecosystem of products and applications, users choosing accessories, end-effectors, and software solutions from Universal Robots+, both distributors and end-users, get high security and predictability that applications will run well from the start.
  • +YOU: a unique, free-of-charge developer program, offering a powerful marketing and support platform for the flourishing eco-system of UR-robot application developers.

Alongside the launch of Universal Robots+, a new update for the robot arm’s operating software has been published. The new release (Software Version 3.3) includes updates such as the Profinet IO device functionality. The new compatibility with Profinet protocols opens up numerous additional areas of deployment and activities for robots. “A key feature of the update supporting the Universal Robots+ platform is the ability for providers to now offer solutions that interface seamlessly with the UR software,” says Østergaard.

Carbon 3D

Carbon 3D announced new funding from strategic investors toward the goal of bringing additive technology to more customers transitioning from prototyping-only use cases, to applications requiring final production quality parts with great surface finish, broad and expanding material options and the plans to transition to mainstream manufacturing. A Silicon Valley 3D printing company working at the intersection of hardware, software and molecular science, Carbon also plans to offer its proprietary CLIP technology internationally and is accelerating production to meet worldwide demand for its M1 printer.

The expansion is supported by $81 million from new investors GE Ventures, BMW, Nikon and JSR, as well as existing investors, bringing Carbon’s funding total to $222 million. More details of additional strategic investors involved in this round of financing will be announced in 2017 along with details of their manufacturing projects that utilize Carbon’s technology.

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