Show review: Hannover Fair 2013

There are usually rich pickings to be found at the Hannover Fair for those seeking innovation in drives, controls and automation. 2013 provided a good crop of novel solutions from some of the big names in the sector.

Parker Hannifin, for instance, demonstrated its latest patented, electrically-driven linear actuator series. The Origa ORD-E is an ultra-compact series of linear actuators., whose high forces, compact design, non-rotating technology and wide temperature range – together with an IP65 rating – make them ideal for applications with tough ambient conditions and where regular intensive cleaning and rinsing is required. From initial introduction to the market, the new ORD-E will be available in a 50 mm size, with further sizes of 80mm, 100mm and 160mm following soon after. The ORD-E series has been designed to perform high-load linear movements with up to a 500mm maximum stroke length and with forces up to 2,000N. Parker also demonstrated its ability to connect the electromechanical drive with hydraulics to give a speed-controlled, electrohydraulic, full-system solution. For the composition and layout Parker uses an extensive construction kit of high-grade components that will be constantly expanded and thus always stay up to date. All components are precisely matched with one another and individually tailored to the cycle of the respective application using a newly developed piece of software. At the same time, the size of the components used can also be reduced. In doing so, Parker fulfils both current and future demands in terms of energy consumption and CO2 and noise emissions as well as the wishes of machine manufacturers and users for more efficient system solutions. Bosch Rexroth, meanwhile, won this year's Hermes Award at Hannover Messe for its Open Core Engineering project, which brings together programmable logic controllers (PLC) and information technology for the first time in industrial applications. Part of a wider move to take advantage of emerging technologies, throughout industry, Open Core Engineering allows greater flexibility and efficiency in the automation process by enabling remote maintenance and operation through smart devices and apps; combining advanced industrial algorithms with everyday hand-held devices. Open Core Engineering combines the previously separate PLC and IT worlds into one comprehensive solution portfolio – a portfolio comprising open standards, software tools, function packages and the Open Core Interface as an enabler for new freedom.This integrated approach combines traditional IEC engineering with the options now made available by high-level language programming. The resulting enhanced access right into the core of the control also allows individual realtime control functions to be quickly and independently implemented. Paul Streatfield, automation specialist, at Bosch Rexroth said: "Our Open Core Engineering software is the result of months of intense research and development that has led to a wholly unique solution to remote access and the operation of industrial machinery. This award recognises not only our achievements, but the wider move within the industrial sector to embrace and benefit from latest technologies." Control Techniques used the Hannover Fair to demonstrate how the open Ethernet capabilities of Unidrive M, the new family of seven drives dedicated to manufacturing automation, can deliver maximum synchronisation accuracy. The demonstration showed an open system in which Unidrive M was controlling the synchronisation between two Unimotor HD servomotors monitored by a standard IP network camera – all linked by an open IEEE 1588 Ethernet network. Each drive in the Unidrive M family benefits from a completely open creation environment, ensuring that machine designers using Unidrive M have the widest possible choice of components and will not be restricted by closed systems. Unidrive M uses the CODESYS programming platform with standard IEC 61131-3 programming languages and standard Ethernet for communication across drives, I/O, HMIs, PLCs and other industrial devices. Unidrive M also supports connectivity with PROFINET RT, EtherNet/IP, Modbus TCP/IP and EtherCAT devices. Meanwhile, Unidrive M's high performance allows all manufacturers to increase the throughput of their machines via advanced motor control. For Unidrive M, Control Techniques has developed a high bandwidth motor control algorithm with up to 3,300 Hz current loop and 250 Hz speed loop bandwidth. Combined with the latest microprocessor technology, the result is extreme stability and high performance in all applications. Enrique Miñarro Viseras, president of Control Techniques, said: "In Unidrive M, Control Techniques is offering a complete drives solution for manufacturing automation, with each drive tailored to meet the needs of a specific group of customers in a way that has never been done before. The Unidrive M family offers a completely open creation environment for machine builders as well as market-leading machine performance and I am incredibly excited about how its benefits will improve the productivity of our customers." As is now traditional, Festo demonstrated some of the innovations to have emerged from its Bionic Learning Network, which provides new inspiration for automation technology at the Hannover Trade Fair. The emerging fields this year included research in the areas of function integration, lightweight construction, self-configuration and machine learning. With the 'BionicOpter', the 'WaveHandling system', Festo shows how principles from nature can be applied in automation technology. After bird flight had been deciphered with the SmartBird in 2010, Festo's developers took on their next-biggest challenge in the Bionic Learning Network: modelling the dragonfly at a technical level. The BionicOpter is an ultralight flying object. Just like its model in nature, the BionicOpter can fly in all directions and execute the most complicated flight manoeuvres. The BionicOpter's ability to move each of its wings independently enables it to slow down and turn abruptly, to accelerate swiftly and even to fly backwards. This way of flying is made possible by lightweight construction and the integration of functions: components such as sensors, actuators and mechanical components, as well as open- and closed-loop control systems are installed in a very tight space and adapted to one another. With the WaveHandling pneumatic conveyor, engineers from Festo's Bionic Learning Network has developed a modular system able to move a surface in such a way that objects are transported and sorted purposefully. Thanks to the integration of a sorting function, an additional handling unit is no longer required for this process. The conveyor consists of numerous bellows modules that deform the surface creating a wave motion that transports the objects in a targeted manner. Inspiration for this principle was provided by waves in nature. The movement of the wind over the smooth surface of the water produces small ripples, which grow as the wind pushes against them. However, what is being moved by the waves is energy, not water. The water molecules within a wave move up and down in a circular motion, but remain in roughly the same place. Yet the energy produced causes the wave to roll over the surface of the sea. The WaveHandling system behaves in a similar way: while each individual bellows advances and retracts in the same spot, a wave moves over the surface of the conveyor. The individual modules are self-configuring. This means that the system can be started up quickly and without programming, no matter what the layout is. A potential application of the platform is in the food industry, where it is felt it will be useful for automatically transporting delicate items like fruit and vegetables and sorting them for the next process step. With the WaveHandling transport system, Festo is already demonstrating how the configuration of a system will be handled by the individual modules themselves in the future.