SPS show drives innovation

Written by: Paul Fanning | Published:

The SPS Drives Show, which took place in Nuremburg in late November, is probably the largest exhibition in the world dedicated to drives, controls and automation.

For this reason, it tends to be where many of the world's leading drive and control manufacturers released new products to the market.

One of the standout releases at the show came from Control Techniques, which launched its Unidrive M range. Designed for customers in the manufacturing sector, each of this family of seven drives has been designed to meet the requirements of, and improve productivity in, a specific area of the manufacturing market.

The new top-range product, the Unidrive M800, integrates a new breed of high-performance MCi machine controller within the drive to enhance machine throughput by providing comprehensive control across complete customer machines. They are configured using the industry-leading CODESYS programming environment with standard IEC 61131-3 programming languages and standard Ethernet for communication across drives, I/O, HMIs, PLCs and other industrial devices. Control Techniques' synchronised multi-tasking structure and advanced motion control expertise complete the offering, fully utilising open and industry standard technologies.

Onboard real-time Ethernet (using IEEE 1588 V2) provides improved machine control with fast and flexible communications, achieving synchronisation rates across the network of below 1µs, update rates as low as 250µs and a virtually unlimited node count.

Control Techniques' advanced new Real Time Machine Control Protocol uses standard Ethernet TCP/IP and UDP to provide a highly efficient and compact message structure that frees up Ethernet network bandwidth and minimises network loading. This allows Unidrive M models to talk directly to each other instead of having to route all communications through the traditional machine controller. Each Ethernet-enabled drive incorporates a dual-port Ethernet switch with standard RJ45 connectors, greatly simplifying the task of networking machines.

Certain applications, such as electronic line shafts, can be set up without having to write any programming code at all. In these instances, the drives will start communicating with one another automatically, synchronising their control loops so that they can operate in seamless coordination. Standard Ethernet allows Control Techniques' protocols to work alongside others, such as PROFINET RT, Ethernet/IP and Modbus TCP/IP.

To create the Unidrive M family, Control Techniques conducted the most comprehensive programme of market research in its history. The goal of this research was to allow the company to develop an engineering plan that was entirely focused on customer needs. The initial programme of qualitative research consisted of a series of in-depth interviews with OEMs and other end users designed to identify the precise needs of the manufacturing market. This was followed up by a comprehensive programme of quantitative research which greatly expanded upon the findings of the interviews, ensuring that Control Techniques understood exactly which drive features each specific area of the manufacturing market requires. The quantitative research consisted of conjoint studies: sophisticated web-based surveys which recreate the buying decision in order to establish the underlying needs of the customer.

Another launch at the show came from Global AC drive manufacturer Vacon, which announced the new Vacon 100 FLOW, an AC drive specially optimised for pump and fan applications. The new AC drive offers versatile flow control for water & wastewater and building automation applications, further strengthening the wide range of the VACON 100 product family.

The Vacon 100 FLOW is the newest member of Vacon's third-generation VACON 100 product family. It combines the Vacon 100 HVAC AC drive for building automation applications with dedicated functions that can benefit flow control processes. The new AC drive also improves the efficiency and redundancy of pump systems, offering advanced features such as Multimaster and Multifollower for controlling multiple pumps simultaneously.

Vacon 100 FLOW comes with many user-friendly features such as a fully graphical multilingual display, configuration wizards which enable easy setup of the drive, and intuitive built-in block programming functions which allow the AC drive to be tailored for special needs, such as use in retrofit installations.

Easy system integration is made possible with industry-leading on-board Ethernet-based communication protocols such as EtherNet/IP, PROFINET IO and Modbus TCP, a Safe Torque Off (STO) function and ATEX-certified motor over-temperature protection.

UK-based variable speed drives manufacturer, Invertek Drives used its largest exhibition stand to date at SPS/IPC/Drives to showcase a range of new technologies. Demonstrations of Optidrive HVAC delivering improved performance, control and energy saving in fan and pump applications were a major highlight, while Optiflow drive technology was used to run a large demonstration of the energy efficient-control of multiple pump sets without the need for an expensive PLC.

Alongside these Optidrive HVAC demonstrations was the newly-launched compact Optidrive Elevator, dedicated to geared and gearless lift systems; the high-performance Optidrive P2 range, providing world-class control for the latest generation of permanent magnet and standard induction motors; and the hugely successful Optidrive E2 general-purpose drive, offering cost-effective solutions for a huge range of applications. IP55 and IP66 rated enclosed Optidrives for arduous environments and washdown applications were also on display.

Also on show was the latest generation OptiTools Studio diagnostics and drive commissioning software. This software extends the usability and flexible performance of the Optidrive ranges by allowing extremely easy transfer and comparison of parameter sets, optional PLC programming capability, Bluetooth connectivity and a host of other performance-enhancing capabilities.

B&R's new offerings at the show included the ACOPOSmulti65m motor-mounted servo drive with IP65 protection is an innovative addition to B&R's modular ACOPOSmulti drive system. It melds with the motor to form a configurable and easy-to-connect mechatronic servo drive unit with integrated safe motion functions and openSAFETY to deliver power right where it is needed on the machine. This saves valuable space in the control cabinet, and even more importantly, advances the development of decentralised machine architectures.

In addition, B&R has introduced an all-new energy monitoring solution – APROL EnMon. Helping users implement ISO 50001, this new innovation also provides improved energy efficiency, which means reduced costs and increased competitiveness. In stand-alone operation or integrated in an existing APROL process control system, this solution supports a continual improvement by measuring and evaluating all relevant energy consumption data.

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