MD&M East update: Automation is on tap


beckhoffThis year’s MD&M East—and its associated shows, like ATX East, East PACK, etc.—are back in New York at the Javits Convention Center this week, and there’s a good buzz about the show. The economy is chugging along, according to exhibitors, and there is reason for optimism in the coming quarters. Here’s a sampling of what I saw on the exhibit floor today …

Automation expert Beckhoff (Booth #2411) has an interesting new product on display that is a one-cable solution, as the company calls it. Dubbed EtherCAT P, it combines communication and power in a single 4-wire standard Ethernet cable. Here, the direct supply of both the EtherCAT P slaves and the connected sensors and actuators with two voltages is possible. The two voltages US (for system and sensor supply) and UP (for peripheral voltage for actuators) are electrically isolated from each other. Each can supply a current of up to 3 A to the connected components.

Beckhoff says that all the benefits of EtherCAT—freedom in topology design, high speed, optimum bandwidth utilisation, telegram processing on-the-fly, highly precise synchronisation, extensive diagnostics functionality—are retained, while integrating the voltages. I love it when technology makes your life easier!

The other interesting angle is that EtherCAT P offers some significant savings potential, such as:
• elimination of separate supply cables
• low wiring effort and significant time savings
• sources of error are reduced
• minimization of installation space for drag-chains and control cabinets
• smaller and tidier cable trays, and
• smaller sensors and actuators through the elimination of separate supply cables.

Check out the cool video on the product, below.


universal robots ur5Elsewhere, I learned a lot at the Universal Robots (Booth #2529), where the company is displaying three collaborative robots that handle a wide variety of industrial tasks—from CNC machine tending to polishing, wire cutting, injection molding and pick & place applications. What I thought was interesting, and different from shows even a few years ago, is how these so-called “cobots” are placed right in the midst of a high-traffic area. There, they operate with no safety guarding alongside people. While this may seem radical to some, it’s the new wave of robots, and is how you’ll find them in many of their real life installations today.

Also at the booth, a UR5 robot arm features collision avoidance and real-time adaptive pick & place with partner Energid, a developer of software for robots and machine vision. The UR5 picks ‘widgets’ out of a feeder that moves around and is dynamically tracked by the vision-guided cobot. Using a wand, attendees can interact with the collaborative robot and it will avoid the wand while attempting to reach the widget.

max ambrellI was fascinated by another partnership: MAX by Ambrell, the world’s first heat induction cobot. The booth demo shows MAX moving stainless steel rods into an induction heating coil where the rods will be heated to 600 °C in just seconds by an Ambrell EASYHEAT induction heating system and then moved forward in the process.

“An adaptation for this trade show demonstration could be preheating rods for hot heading or forging industrial fasteners, delivering an innovative induction heating solution designed specifically to maximize manufacturing throughput,” said Ambrell President, Tony Mazzullo. “MAX can perform a variety of light industrial—usually repetitive—tasks, and interacts safely and efficiently as it works hand-in-hand with humans in a shared process.”

trelleborgLastly, over at Trelleborg Sealing Solutions (Booth #1721), the company is touting how it can optimize critical product development areas such as rapid prototyping including advanced Liquid Silicone Rubber (LSR) and silicone expertise—as seen in antimicrobial silicone components and drug-eluting solutions, Global-but-Local engineering support, advanced assembly, sterilization, and packaging services.

“With the race to gain more of a competitive edge in the highly competitive healthcare and medical industry, it’s easy to understand why original equipment manufacturers have come to rely on their suppliers to deliver greater advantages such as innovative engineering and a full-service approach. Medical device, pharmaceutical, and biotechnology OEMs are in need of suppliers like Trelleborg that can provide global insight and accelerate product development—improving quality and patient safety while keeping to tight budgets and tracking product data for next-generation device development,” explained Drew Rogers, Global Director, Healthcare & Medical for Trelleborg Sealing Solutions.

At the booth, attendees can explore the LSR manufacturing capabilities from the company through a fun virtual reality area.




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