The annual German trade show SPS/IPC/Drives closed last week in Nuremberg after attracting record numbers of exhibitors and attendees. Final attendance was 56,321 people who visited 1,429 stands of companies from 39 countries. The local German companies in particular gear the bulk of their new product announcements for release there.

Here’s a roundup of various announcements that I gathered during my sprint around the halls and press conferences.

The day before the show opened, I got a tour of a Siemens manufacturing plant in Amberg, about a 30-minute drive from Nuremberg. The plant manufactures contactors and various other control components. Very clean and well-run. It is to receive a prestigious manufacturing award in Germany and is in the running for a European one, as well. I love the smell of cutting oil and seeing manufacturing at its best incorporating Lean principles. It was an enjoyable afternoon.

Siemens announcements

The Siemens Industry Automation division has improved its fault tolerant Simatic S7-400H high-performance controllers and equipped them with new functions. In addition, the range of controllers has been extended with the new CPU 416-5H. All CPUs now have a Profinet interface with a 2-port switch, larger memory and an expanded quantity structure for data and function block as well as function calls. One of the new functions concerns the master-reserve switchover that can now be programmed by the user.

Fail-safe applications have been integrated into its engineering framework, the TIA Portal. Under the “Step 7 V11 user interface” the new engineering tool Step 7 Safety Advanced now provides the required configuration and programming tools for the creation of a safety-related program. The new engineering tool for safety tasks uses the standard project structure of Step 7 V11 and offers the same operating concept as for the creation of standard programs. The speeds up the familiarization process for the user. In addition, the integrated library, with TÜV-certified function blocks for all common safety functions, simplifies the creation of programs.

The Siplus CMS2000 condition monitoring system can monitor and analyze mechanical components like motors, generators, pumps or fans by recording vibrations, rotational speeds and temperature. It offers two standard IEPE interfaces for connecting vibration sensors as well as one speed input, two analog inputs, two digital inputs, and three digital outputs. The modular system can also be expanded by temperature modules from the Simocode family.

The AS-i master CM1243-2 communication module connects AS-Interface networks to the Simatic S7-1200 controller. The module expands the application area of the controller. The AS-i master enables sensors and actuators to be easily and quickly integrated at the lowest field level both in the Simatic S7-1200 and in the TIA Portal. Configuration via the TIA Portal is comparably fast and user-friendly, similar to Profinet or Profibus networks.

An expanded choice of industrial Ethernet switches includes a new product line with 19-inch rack devices. The SCALANCE-X-500 switches are suitable for configuring large automation networks and connecting them to the company’s IT system. Typical areas of application are network configuration and coupling in production and process industry systems, as well as in industry-oriented sectors – such as mining, logistics and transport. The new switches are equipped with fully modular “Hot swappable” 4-port technology for electrical and optical media modules. Scalance XR528-6M, with two height units, has six slots for 4-port media modules. Scalance XR552-12M has three height units and twelve slots. Up to 24 or 48 end devices and network components with a speed of 10 to 1,000 Mbit/s can be connected. In addition, both device versions offer four slots for SFP+ (Small Form-factor, pluggable) transceivers with a 10 Gigabit/s Ethernet.

In the field of drive technologies, the Siemens Drive Technologies Division has merged its extensive electric motor ranges with the “Simotics” product family, enabling users to find the right motor for each application in the manufacturing and process industries and/or in the energy sector. The Simotics family includes low-voltage motors for mains and converter operation, motors for motion control applications, as well as DC and high-voltage motors. The company launched the first product innovation to bear the new name: the Simotics T 1FW6 torque motor. It boasts high dynamic response and high positioning accuracy and will be available in a range of new compact sizes suiting applications with limited space availability.

Multitouch panels debut

Now that we are all familiar with multitouch screens on our Android and iOS devices, it’s time to introduce the technology to industrial automation. And rivals B&R Automation and Beckhoff Automation have done just that.

B&R presented a 21.5-in. full HD Automation Panel for mounting on a support arm. Its solid glass surface makes it easy to clean and offers the operator excellent haptic properties.

Beckhoff introduced a range of display sizes in both wide screen and 4:3 format including 7-inch with a resolution of 800 × 480, 15.6-inch with 1366 × 768, 18.5-inch with 1366 × 768 and 24-inch with the full HD resolution of 1920 × 1080. In 4:3 format – 12-inch with 800 × 600, 15-inch with 1024 × 768 and 19-inch with 1280 × 1024.

Beckhoff uses the Projective Capacitive Touchscreen (PCT) technology. The front of the display is a glass pane with an anti-reflection coating; operation with work gloves (e.g. latex gloves) is also possible. Five-finger touch and automation solutions with 2-hand operation are equally possible. The new panel series is conceived both for control cabinet installation and for the mounting arm installation.

B&R Automation

B&R introduced a series of motor-integrated servo drives with IP65 protection. The ACOPOSmulti merges inverters with the motor to create servo actuators that can deliver power directly where it is needed. Configurable modules thus become easy-to-connect mechatronic units. This new system unites all of the important components such as the motor, positioning sensor (encoder), precision gearbox and servo drive.

The ACOPOSmulti65m is fully compatible with the entire ACOPOS drive series and therefore utilizes the tools and features available in Automation Studio. Using Ethernet PowerLink networking, the servos can be employed in either line or tree topology. It also comes equipped with STO (Safe Torque Off) and SS1 safety functions in accordance with SIL 3 or PLe.

Beckhoff Automation

Beckhoff released its new version of TwinCat (v. 3) with delivery expected for early 2012. Features include simplified engineering, and new languages and language options, such as the object orientation of IEC 61131, C/C++ and Matlab/Simulink for real-time applications. Microsoft Visual Studio is embedded.

TwinCAT 3 run-time includes multi-core processor support

Last year at SPS, the company announced the development of a motion division. This year, Beckhoff unveiled the AM8000 motor series. The rotary synchronous servomotors, which are available in standard and stainless steel designs, are characterized by high dynamics, energy efficiency and low costs. One of the AM8000 highlights is the new single-cable technology, with which the power and feedback system are combined in one standard motor cable. This new servomotor series will be available from the 1st quarter of 2012.

Energy is on everyone’s mind, and Beckhoff introduced an energy monitoring system. The EL3773 power monitoring terminal for the Beckhoff EtherCat I/O system is designed to monitor the condition of a three-phase AC or a DC mains network. It collects instantaneous values of power and voltage at a sampling rate of up to 10,000 samples/sec and makes them available to the higher-level PC controller for calculation or analysis. The input channels are transferred via oversampling; this results in the acquisition of actual values with a significantly higher resolution in terms of time than the communication cycle time.


I met with several executives at the ABB stand which primarily featured products applicable to factory automation. Their was a process automation section to the exhibit, but it was small owing to the overall discrete focus to the show.

Integration of ABB drives and motors with Baldor is proceeding rapidly. New drives were introduced featuring a common human interface module. Also new was a safety PLC. Most important though was a new focus on integrating the entire control/drive/motor product line into comprehensive solution systems rather than the company’s previous component sales focus.


ODVA released a new white paper, Optimization of Machine Integration, developed through its cooperation with Sercos International and the OPC Foundation to outline a strategic vision for an open and interoperable communication framework. Another document released was “Securing EtherNet/IP Networks” which discusses cyber-security recommendations for automation networks. Finally, it announced new editions of it specifications which includes the specification for an Energy Object, the beginning of the CIP Energy family of protocols.


Eelco van der Wal, managing director of PLCopen told me that support for XML schema was gaining strong support. The organization also announced a kick-off meeting with OPC Foundation to develop MES connectivity cooperation. Further, Parts 5 and 6 of the PLCopen Motion control specification have been released. Part 5 enables users to create dedicated homing procedures, while Part 6 saw the addition of a fluid power application area.

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