August 25, 2015 Volume 11 Issue 32

Motion Control News & Products

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Autonomous mobile robots do heavier lifting

ROEQ has launched two new top modules and accompanying accessories designed to boost the payload and lifting capabilities of autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) from industry leader Mobile Industrial Robots (MiR). Capable of handling total payloads of up to 1,500 kg (3,307 lb), the new ROEQ top module TMS-C1500 combined with the new S-Cart1500W shelf cart greatly increases the payload capabilities of MiR's MiR500, MiR600, MiR1000, and MiR1350 AMRs. Eliminating the need for a docking station, the TMS-C1500 can pick up and drop off the shelf cart in free space and with precision. The AMR is never left idling, and it can simply drop off the cart and immediately go and pick up a new one. ROEQ has also launched the top module TML200 with a stroke of 40 mm that can lift and transport crates, pallets, racks, and ROEQ shelf carts.
Learn more and see these units work.

Inductive vs. optical vs. magnetic encoders: How to choose

It makes sense that when there isn't a need to spend on a high-end optical encoder, the most common thought is to look directly to magnetic encoders. According to HEIDENHAIN, sometimes that's the right move, but when using an inductive encoder is an available option, your search shouldn't be limited to magnetic or optical. Confused? You won't be after reading this informative HEIDENHAIN blog.
Read the full article.

How to avoid premature linear screw actuator failure

At their core, electric linear screw actuators deploy mechanical technology such as ball bearings, ball screws, and roller screws that have a finite life. These components do not last forever -- even though that is the expectation of some customers. But how long will an actuator really last? Tolomatic engineers provide a way to calculate, estimate, and size the electric linear screw actuator to achieve the desired life for your application.
Read this informative Tolomatic blog.

Actuator selection: External motor or internal servo motor?

There are key differences between traditional (external motor) and integrated (internal servo motor) actuators. Each technology offers performance advantages depending on the application type and requirements. Knowing how to compare the two will help engineers design machines that meet their requirements.
Full details in this Tolomatic white paper (no registration required).

Cobots in Automotive?

While automotive was one of the first industries to automate its factories, today's OEMs and tier suppliers still have employees managing far too many manual tasks which can lead to bored workers, inconsistent product quality and workplace injuries. This webinar hosted by Universal Robots will help those seeking to learn how collaborative robots are being used in automotive, with specific examples of cobots taking over machine tending, screwdriving, welding, painting and quality inspection tasks.
Join the on-demand webinar now:

Universal Robots takes cobot welding to the next level at FABTECH 2021

Universal Robots pioneered collaborative arc welding and continues to make cobot-powered fabricating solutions mainstream. FABTECH 2021 (Sept. 13-16) is the launchpad for innovative new cobot applications including heavy-duty water-cooled welding, hardfacing, plasma cutting, and flexible machine loading.
Read the full article.

Spindle drive motor with integrated multi-turn encoder

JVL has a new addition to its ServoStep motor lineup: a directly mountable motor for driving spindles. It's perfect for replacing hand wheels in format-change applications. ServoStep has everything built in, including motor, encoder, drive electronics, control electronics with ePLC, and optional Ethernet or CAN bus integrated into one compact unit. All major industrial Ethernet protocols are available. Features include: double ball bearings enabling up to 7,100 N axial load, closed-loop control, and energy efficiency due to automatic current control. Available through Electromate.
Learn more.

Micro Brakes for precision equipment applications

Fast braking response in small, precision torque applications -- that's the primary benefit of Miki Pulley Micro Brakes. The ultra-compact brake design features a stator with integrated mounting flange, proprietary composite friction liner, and armature complete with ring plate spring and hub. It halts rotation mechanically by using an electromagnetic field to connect friction surfaces. Features include quiet operation, high holding torque for its size, a space-saving design configuration, long service life, and stable and reliable braking power. Applications include ATMs, office copiers, weighing and packaging equipment, optical mechanisms, paper binding mechanisms, and more.
Learn more.

Gantry and multi-axis systems: How to build one your way

Gantries can be complicated and specialized. There are infinite variations for moving an object on multiple axes, but designing these motion control systems doesn't have to be intimidating. If you have weight, force, or size challenges that don't fit within off-the-shelf parameters, just follow these four steps to create a successful, customized system.
Read this informative Tolomatic blog.

Severe-duty AC motors for the toughest applications

The SIMOTICS SD200 severe-duty motor in frame size 440 is Siemens' latest offering in the low-voltage SIMOTICS motor family. Providing high productivity and energy-efficient operation in all torque ranges, these new cast-iron NEMA motors are built to power pumps, fans, compressors, hoists, winders, and similar equipment in harsh environments. With a three-year warranty, the SD200 motors offer 125- to 800-hp output and feature 444-5013 cast-iron frames for operation in 460- and 575-V ranges. Options include IP56 ingress protection, encoders, brakes, and blowers, plus many others to suit the application required.
Learn more.

Reliable automated testing of cultured cells in the lab

What dosage achieves the desired result without side effects? Above what limit does the beneficial medication turn toxic? Today, such questions are answered in test series performed with cell cultures. With the CYRIS®FLOX automated test system, work in the laboratories is made much easier. Here, motors from FAULHABER ensure that the cultures are supplied with nutrients and medications for the duration of the trial and the development of the cells is closely monitored -- without human intervention.
Read the full article.

Electromechanical linear actuators: High power in small packages

Packing higher motion control capability into a more compact envelope has given rise to a new generation of high power-density actuators. Machine designers for mobile-off-highway, material handling, factory automation, and other power-hungry applications can now get electrical actuators from Thomson that provide up to 2 kN/450 lbf with advanced onboard electronics ΜΆ-- all in a component that requires less space and is more cost efficient than hydraulic or heavier-duty electromechanical actuators that might previously have been deployed for such applications.
Read the full Thomson article.

New backlash-free threaded nut for external linear actuators

Nanotec now offers radially pre-loaded threaded nuts for its external linear actuators with flange size 42 mm (NEMA 17). These backlash-free nuts automatically readjust themselves during operation and achieve high positioning accuracy and repeatability. Compared to simple, axially pre-loaded nuts, they are characterized by a lower frictional torque and higher efficiency. The nuts are currently offered in combination with the linear actuators of the LSA42 series from Nanotec. These actuators are available in many lengths and thread leads. They come with ACME or trapezoidal thread and facilitate the construction of space-saving linear axes.
Learn more.

A servo motor first: Certified PROFINET with PROFIdrive

Dunker-motoren, a world leader in brushless DC motors with integrated electronics from 1 to 4,000 W, is the first drive technology manufacturer to fully integrate its certified PROFINET solution with PROFIdrive into a motor -- a milestone in terms of cabling, commissioning, and IIoT capability. The certification ensures users that high standards of stability, even under extreme bus conditions, are always maintained. Currently, the products BG 95 dPro, BG 75 dPro, BG 66 dPro, and BGE 5510 dPro are available with the PROFINET interface.
Learn more.

What are piezoelectric active shims?

Active shims, such as PIRest from Physik Instrumente, can readjust the gap between two components in a machine at any time with nanometer precision. Due to the piezo element's high resolution down to the nanometer range, active shims cover applications in classical mechanical precision engineering, as well as the alignment of optical components in astronomy, semiconductor manufacturing, and in materials research employing beam-line instrumentation.
Read the full article.

Car and truck shock absorbers aim to harvest energy from bumps in the road

By Eleanor Nelson, Virginia Tech

The 255 million cars on the road in the United States account for 40% of the country's fuel consumption. Most of that fuel is wasted.

Lei Zuo, an associate professor of mechanical engineering in Virginia Tech's College of Engineering, may have a partial solution: harvesting energy from the car's suspension.

Zuo explained that only 10% to 16% of the fuel a car consumes is actually used to drive -- that is, to overcome road resistance and air drag. Most of the rest is lost to heat and other inefficiencies.

With clever engineering, however, that deficit can be reduced.

Three major opportunities exist for recovering or generating energy while driving: the waste heat given off by the engine, the kinetic energy absorbed during braking, and the vibrational energy dampened by the shock absorbers, he said.

Zuo estimates that a car's shock absorbers should be able to provide between 100 and 400 watts of energy on normal roads and even more on rougher roads. By comparison, the average cell phone call uses about 1 watt. That corresponds to an increase in fuel efficiency between 1% and 5%, which would add up to an annual fuel savings of $13 billion to $19 billion.

His energy-harvesting shock absorber works by translating the vertical vibrations of the suspension into rotational motion that turns a generator. The generator delivers electricity directly to the car's battery or electrical devices, reducing the demand on the alternator.

This system has solved a major challenge in harvesting vibrational energy: converting bidirectional, up-and-down motion into the unidirectional motion needed to drive a generator. A unique combination of gears allows motion in both directions to be converted into electricity, essentially doubling the amount of energy that can be recovered.

Zuo, who is affiliated with the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science, explains that this innovation allows the generator to work at a steady speed and reduces the load on the gear teeth, making the system more efficient and reliable. Moreover, the generator keeps rotating even after the vibration has stopped, maximizing the amount of energy recovered.

He and his students have tested the shock absorber on campus roads. Their current model, which the students have built using off-the-shelf components, can harvest about 60% of the available energy -- a substantial improvement over other designs.

Zuo said he is confident that with precision components and manufacturing the system could reach 85% efficiency.

Moreover, he said, the device is entirely retrofittable in terms of space and function, and "can be integrated in the car directly without changing anything in the car." Zuo and his team have created other types of energy-harvesting shock absorbers, including linear electromagnetic and hydroelectric absorbers.

Zuo, who recently received an award for this work from the Governor's Commonwealth of Virginia Research Commercialization Fund, said he plans to focus next on the commercial viability of the energy-harvesting system.

He said he hopes to address the concerns of both drivers and automakers -- who have different priorities.

"When we present this to drivers, they ask, how much can you improve the fuel efficiency? How soon can I get my money back?" Zuo said.

"From the car manufacturer's side, they ask another question: Can you replace my commercial shock absorbers? Can you give me better suspension performance?"

Zuo said he plans to tackle both cost and performance in the next round of development. Currently, the system wouldn't be cost effective for car owners who drive less than an hour or so a day, so Zuo will focus on applications for large commercial vehicles while working to reduce the cost.

To improve performance, Zuo said he wants to adapt his design using a strategy called self-powered semi-active control: A microprocessor senses vehicle conditions and adjusts the suspension settings accordingly, delivering the smoothest ride while harvesting the greatest amount of energy.

Zuo also is working on two other areas for energy recovery in cars: waste heat and regenerative braking. Regenerative braking is already in use for hybrid vehicles, but those make up only about 3% of the cars on the road; Zuo wants to develop a system that will work for conventional vehicles.

Energy-harvesting research often focuses on milliwatts and microwatts; Zuo focuses on systems that can yield hundreds or even thousands of watts. "I'm particularly excited about the opportunities in large-scale energy harvesting, which may help solve the global energy crisis," he said.

Zuo is the associate director of the Virginia Tech Center for Energy-Harvesting Materials and Systems.

Published August 2015

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