Drives & Controls April 2024

MACHINE BUILDING: A novel packaging machine has all of its controls onboard CONVEYORS AND MATERIALS-HANDLING: A Swiss OEM is using levitation to transport sliced foods MACHINE VISION: Vision technology can check that blister packs are healthy Drives&Controls APRIL 2024 #1 ENGINEERING MAGAZINE FOR AUTOMATION, POWER TRANSMISSION AND MOTION CONTROL INSIDE 1(:: 5 G I IXWXUHP 5HDG\ IR WKL PD\ EULQJ RU DQ\WKLQJ J WKH Vision systems from ifm. The eyes of your company. ifm Vision: from selective distance measurement to industrial imaging Being a driver of industrial digitalisation, our mission is to make outstanding optical technologies available to companies of all sizes. This also applies to vision sensors, which, as the “eye” of Industry 4.0, play a significant role in the implementation of digital evolution. Our vision: cutting-edge technology, available to all!

50 CONTENTS n Drives & Controls is a controlled circulation publication. If you live in the UK and want to subscribe phone 0333 577 0801 or fax 0845 604 2327. Alternatively for both UK and overseas subscriptions please subscribe online at If you have any enquiries regarding your subscription, please use these numbers. The content of this magazine, website and newsletters do not necessarily express the views of the Editor or publishers. The publishers accept no legal responsibility for loss arising from information in this publication. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be produced or stored in a retrieval system without the written consent of the publishers. Paid subscriptions UK: £110 per annum Europe: £145 per annum Rest of World: £180 per annum Printing: Warners Midlands PLC., PE10 9PH ISSN 0950 5490 Copyright: DFA Media Group 2024 NEXT ISSUE The May issue of Drives & Controls will contain our annual supplement on electric motors, plus a look at developments in linear motion technologies, and applications in the scienti€c, pharmaceuticals and medical engineering markets. We will also be previewing Smart M&E Week 2024. UPDATE 14 Comment 15 Back to Basics 45 Gambica column 46 New Products 48 Design Data and Multimedia 49 Products & Services IN DEPTH Follow us on X @DrivesnControls Drives Magazine Web site Follow us on LinkedIn @ Drives & Controls Join us on Facebook Drives & Controls Drives& Controls REGULARS DfAmedia group 34 30 26 24 5 47 DRIVES & CONTROLS April 2024 Vol 40 No 4 Editor Tony Sacks t: 01732 465367 e: Consultant Editor Andy Pye t: 07808 137312 e: Production Manager Sarah Blake t: 01233 770781 e: Operations Manager Emma Godden-Wood t: 01732 370340 e: Marketing Manager Hope Jepson t: 01732 370340 e: Financial Finance Department t: 01732 370340 e: ADVERTISING Sales Director Damien Oxlee t: 01732 370342 m: 07951 103754 e: Sales Manager Sara Gordon t: 01732 370341 m: 07505867211 e: DFA Direct Ian Atkinson t: 01732 370340 e: Italy Oliver & Diego Casiraghi e: t: +39 031 261407 f: +39 031 261380 Managing Director Ryan Fuller t: 01732 370344 e: Chief Executive O”cer Ian Atkinson t: 01732 370346 e: Reader/Circulation Enquiries Perception-MPS Ltd t: 01825 701520 e: HEAD OFFICE DFA Media Group 192 High Street, Tonbridge, Kent TN9 1BE t: 01732 370340 f: 01732 360034 e: 5 News A round-up of the latest business and industry developments from around the world. 18 Technology Cutting-edge innovations in motion, power transmission, controls and related technologies. 26 Humanoid Robots A ‰urry of recent developments suggest that humanoid robots are starting to move from laboratories to factories and warehouses. A major bank has dramatically revised its predictions for the size of the humanoid market, predicting it will be worth $38bn by 2035 – a six-fold increase on a year ago. 28 Machine-Building We report on a novel packaging machine that has all of its controls onboard, instead of in an external cabinet, saving wiring and space. Plus what does the EU’s new Machinery Regulation, which replaces the earlier Machinery Directive, mean for you. 34 Conveyors and Materials-Handling A Swiss food machinery specialist has turned to a levitating technology to transport sliced foods and is reporting it has many advantages. Also, how mobile robots can help to move items around warehouses, overcoming some of the limitations of traditional conveyors. 38 Machine Vision A German vision specialist has developed a technology that combines robots with four 3D cameras to load and unload pressed parts automatically from large containers. Plus a look at how vision systems can transform blister pack inspections, making them accurate, precise and e—cient. 42 Smart M&E Week Smart Manufacturing & Engineering Week 2024, including the Drives & Controls Show, will take place at the NEC on 5 and 6 June. We dig a little deeper into what visitors can expect at the event, and at the other activities happening at the same time. 44 Virtual Reality Augmented and virtual reality technology are being used increasingly in factory settings. An expert examines some of the implications. 40 Average net circulation January to December 2022 44 45 42 Subscribe for your FREE copy now 21,157

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NEWS n 5 Mercedes and BMW explore using humanoid robots in their plants MERCEDES-BENZ AND BMW have announced plans to start testing humanoid robots for possible deployment in their production plants. Mercedes-Benz is exploring using humanoid robots supplied by the US manufacturer Apptronik to carry parts to production lines for workers to assemble, and to inspect the components at the same time. And BMW is planning to use humanoid robots from the Californian developer Figure AI to perform unspeci€ed tasks at a plant in the US. These are two a series of developments in recent months that suggest that humanoid robots are starting to migrate from laboratories and YouTube videos to real-world applications in factories in warehouses. In one sign of the rapid pace of developments in this area, researchers at the US bank Goldman Sachs are predicting that the global market for humanoids could be worth $38bn by 2035 – six times larger than they were forecasting just a year ago – with 1.4 million of the machines being shipped annually by then. The researchers are basing their dramatically revised predictions on a combination of plummeting costs, soaring investment in the sector, and the enhanced capabilities that AI is bringing to bipedal robots. The researchers suggest that humanoid robots could achieve two-year paybacks as soon as 2025-2026. (For more on the report, see page 26.) Another powerful indicator is a series of recent announcements by the chip-maker Nvidia of software and hardware developments aimed at accelerating the development of humanoid robots. The company’s founder and CEO, Jensen Huang, last month described the development of models for humanoid robots as being“one of the most exciting problems to solve in AI today”. (See more on Nvidia’s plans on page 18.) Then there is the news that Figure AI, founded in 2022, has raised $675m of backing from investors including Amazon boss, Jež Bezos, Nvidia, Microsoft and OpenAI. The company, which is currently valued at $2.6bn, will use the money to accelerate the development of its AI-powered humanoid robot, Figure 01, which is aimed at commercial applications. A recent video shows it interacting with a human using normal-sounding spoken English. In China, a government report last year identi€ed humanoid robots as being a critical technology with a potential for disrupting industry. It called for the establishment of industry clusters specialising in humanoids by 2025, with stable industry chains to integrate humanoid robots into the Chinese economy by 2027. It estimated that China’s humanoid robot market could be worth 870 billion yuan (£96bn) by 2030. In other developments: nTesla is developing its own humanoid robot, called Optimus, which can sort objects autonomously and self-calibrate its arms and legs. A recent recruitment drive suggests that Tesla may be preparing to test the robots in its factories. n The Chinese car-maker Nio is already testing humanoid robots from UBTech Robotics on an assembly line at one of its factories. The 77kg Walker X robots, which have 41 servo joints, use real-time image-capturing capabilities to perform quality inspections. n Another Chinese car-maker, Xpeng Motors, is developing its own humanoid robots which it plans to introduce to its factories later this year. One goal is for the company’s PX5 robot to be able to walk 10km while carrying a load. nBoston Robotics has released a video showing its Atlas humanoid robot picking and placing automotive struts. The company is now owned by the Korean carmaker Hyundai, so the robots could €nd their way into its plants. n Oregon-based Agility Robotics, which is developing humanoid robots for warehouse applications, is involved in trials with Amazon and the world’s largest contract logistics provider, GXO Logistics. Amazon is testing Agility’s Digit robot at its robotics R&D facility for tasks such as tote recycling – picking and moving empty totes. GXO is testing the 16kg-capacity robots for roles such as moving totes from AMRs (autonomous mobile robots) to conveyors. n One Chinese humanoid developer, Leju Robot, reckons that the cost of its machines could fall from 600,000 yuan (£63,000) at present to 150,000 yuan (£16,580) by the end of 2025. In their report, the Goldman Sachs researchers identify and compare nine humanoid robots being developed by companies and organisations outside China – and a further ten in China alone. April 2024 Mercedes-Benz is testing the potential of Apptronik’s Apollo humanoid robot to carry parts to assembly lines, at the same time as inspecting their quality SPRINT ELECTRIC, the UK drives developer, has won funding of around £300,00 from Innovate UK to support the development of larger versions of its “groundbreaking” Generis AC regenerative drive. The €rst 22kW models are now ready to go on sale and the funding – from the €fth round of Innovate UK’s Investor Partnerships programme which backs SMEs – will support the development of the Generis range up to 250kW. Sprint Electric was one of 28 successful applicants from 89 applications for funding. The West Sussex based business, which has traditionally focused on DC drives, has been has been collaborating with the University of Nottingham on the AC technology since 2018. The patented AC drives provide will precise control of AC motors, combined with e«cient energy regeneration – a capability which most traditional AC variable-speed drives do not ožer. The Generis drive provides full four-quadrant control, as well as unity power factor and minimal input current distortion. Fourquadrant control removes the need for active front-end drives or braking resistors, simplifying the control of AC motors in complex applications. The technology will reduce heat generation, and improve motor accuracy and system e«ciencies. Sprint wins Innovate UK funding to expand its AC regen range

n NEWS April 2024 6 THE JAPANESE MOTOR-MAKER Nidec and the US private equity rm KPS Capital Partners are reported to be in a bidding battle to acquire Innomotics, the business that Siemens set up last year to spin o€ its motors and large drives activities. According to Bloomberg News, the bidders have been asked to make second-round bids for the business, which has sales worth €3bn and could fetch a similar sum if sold. Innomotics brings together former Siemens activities in the areas of low- to high-voltage motors, geared motors, medium-voltage converters and motor spindles, as well as associated project and service o€erings from Siemens Large Drives Applications (LDA) and Digital Industries businesses, as well as the separately managed Siemens-owned companies Sykatec and Weiss Spindeltechnologie. It employs around 15,000 globally and is currently being run as a separately managed Siemens subsidiary. In a recent examination of potential suitors for Innomotics, Interact Analysis named ABB, WEG, Wolong, Danfoss and Nidec as possible buyers. It pointed out that Nidec, the world’s fourth-largest motor manufacturer, has a history of making acquisitions – it has made 73 acquisitions in its 50year history, including Emerson Electric’s motors and drives business, which it bought for $1.2bn in 2016. If Nidec did buy Innomotics, it would probably be its largest acquisition to date. Interact pointed out that Nidec currently has market share of less than 10% in the EMEA region, giving it a potential anti-trust advantage if it wants to make a purchase in the EU. The analysis added that acquiring Innomotics would give Nidec access to a similar motor range to its own, potentially facilitating integration of the two businesses. Interact said that Nidec’s EMEA revenues would bene t “heavily” from such an acquisition, because Innomotics is the regional market-leader. This could deliver similar revenues to Nidec in the EMEA region to those generated by its Americas division. On the other hand, motors constitute just a fraction of Nidec’s total business, prompting the question of whether Nidec views the motor sector as a strategic priority for signi cant investment. Nidec’s motors business lost market share in 2022. Nidec and KPS ‘in bidding battle’ for Siemens’ Innomotics biz p The Chinese motor-maker Moons Industries has set up a UK subsidiary in Reading, Berkshire. Moons, founded in 1994, claims to be one of the world’s three largest manufacturers of stepper motors and ships more than 30 million motors every year, including 10 million hybrid steppers. Russell Cleasby has been appointed general manager of Moons’ Industries (UK), joining from Ametek where he was UK sales manager. pSiemens is investing £100m in a centre of manufacturing excellence for the rail sector, in Chippenham, Wiltshire, replacing its existing factory in the town. The centre, which is expected to be operational by 2026, will employ more than 800 people building the next generation of rail signalling and control systems. p The two main causes of downtime in UK manufacturing in 2023 were spares availability and lead time issues, according to a survey by the Institute of Engineering & Technology and the industrial services provider, Eriks. It found that UK manufacturers write oŒ millions of pounds of MRO stock each year and that stockpiling – in reaction to Brexit, Covid and the Ukraine war – has resulted in them tying up cash in inventory and writing the investments oŒ as products age or go unused. The survey also found that some engineers set up“squirrel stores”with private stocks of MRO equipment, indicating a lack of trust in stores and purchasing teams. c4cmqotd p Welshpool-based Invertek Drives achieved a record turnover of £96.5m in 2023 – up from £76.3m the previous year. The Americas is the company's biggest market, with Invertek Drives USA generating a turnover of more than £24m in 2023. Sumitomo Heavy Industries acquired Invertek Drives in 2019. pMatara UK, the automation, pneumatics and linear motion specialist, has increased the size of its aluminium extrusion frame department nearly ten-fold, following an extension to its premises in Tewkesbury, which it will share with its parent, Rubix. Matara has taken over adjoining premises, adding 280m2 of ›oor space. The improved work›ows will reduce lead times for customers. NEWS BRIEFS THE BRITISH ELECTRIC MOTOR developer and manufacturer, Saietta, has entered administration after failing to nd a buyer for a production line in Sunderland after a deal to manufacture electrical steering pumps there under contract fell through. Most of the company’s employees have been made redundant. Saietta Group employed around 54 people, mainly at its headquarters in Silverstone, with a further 33 employees at the former ZF Automotive plant in Houghton-leSpring, Sunderland, which it acquired in 2022. Saietta specialised in axial-¥ux motors and in the design, development and supply of powertrains for electric vehicles, scooters, buses and marine applications. In February, the company said it was undertaking a strategic review, including a potential sale process, as cash began to run out. On 4 March, Lucy Winterborne and Daniel Hurd from EY were appointed joint administrators. Saietta chairman Tony Gott said that while there had been “genuine interest … we do not have a proposal that provides the necessary liquidity in the time we have available, following the company's commercial update of February 13 and the subsequent market reaction. Despite all other aspects of the business remaining in progress, and following major restructuring throughout the business over the last 12 months, we were unable to provide the capital required, on a timely basis, to complete the journey to bring the group to a self- nancing position.” UK motor-maker Saietta enters administration Attracting bidders: part of Innomotics product range

BUY FROM US 150,000+ PRODUCTS ON STOCK IN NEED OF INDUSTRIAL ELECTRONICS? PRODUCT NUMBER 6ES7517-3AP00-0AB0 6ES5375-0LA41 6ES7134-6GD01-0BA1 3RV2011-0BA10 6SL3210-1PE13-2AL1 6SL3210-1PE21-8AL0 6ES7134-6JD00-0CA1 6ES7511-1AK02-0AB0 6ES7512-1DK01-0AB0 6SL3120-1TE31-3AA3 6ES7136-6DB00-0CA0 6ES7155-6AU01-0BN0 6ES7136-6RA00-0BF0 6ES7155-6AA01-0BN0 6ES7510-1SJ01-0AB0 6ES7550-1AA01-0AB0 6ES7193-6BP00-0BA0 6ES7331-7PF01-0AB0 6AV2124-0JC01-0AX0 6ES7322-1FF00-0AA0 6ES7138-6AA01-0BA0 6ED1052-1CA00-0BA1 6ES7392-1BM01-0AA0 6ES7135-6HD00-0BA1 6ED1052-1CC00-0BA4 6ES7515-2AM02-0AB0 6ES7331-7KB02-0AB0 6ES7212-1CA00-0XB0 6ES7134-6GF00-0AA1 6AG2511-1AK02-4AB0 6ES7138-4DF00-0AB0 6ES7138-6AA01-0BA0 6ES7155-6AU01-0CN0 6ES7515-2FM02-0AB0 6ES7518-4FP00-0AB0 6ES7154-2AA01-0AB0 6ES7532-5HD00-0AB0 6ES7322-1FF00-0AA0 6ED1052-1CA00-0BA1 6GK1548-0AA00 6SL3210-1KE15-8AF2 6ES7513-1AL02-0AB0 6ES7393-4AA00-0AA0 6ED1053-1CA00-0BA1 6ES7392-1AJ00-0AA0 6ES7390-5BA00-0AA0 6AV2124-0QC02-0AX1 6AV2124-0GC01-0AX0 6ES7972-0BA40-0XA0 6ES7315-2EH14-0AB0 6ES7131-6BF01-0BA0 6ED1056-4BA00-0AA0 6SL3211-0AB21-1AB0 6SL3210-1KE12-3UF2 6SL3210-1KE11-8AF2 6ES7232-4HD32-0XB0 6ES7155-6AU01-0CN0 6ES7134-6JD00-0CA1 6SL3210-1KE21-7AF1 6SL3210-1KE18-8AF1 6ES7193-4CE10-0AA0 6AV2124-0MC01-0AX0 6AV2124-2DC01-0AX0 6ES7531-7KF00-0AB0 6ES5490-7LA21 6GK1901-0DB20-6AA0 6SL3210-1PE22-7AL0 6SL3054-7TF00-2BA0 6SL3210-1PE14-3AL1 6ES7972-0BA52-0XA0 6ES7512-1CK01-0AB0 6ES7511-1CK01-0AB0 6SL3244-0BB12-1FA0 6ES7518-4FP00-0AB0 6ES7518-4AP00-0AB0 6ES7532-5NB00-0AB0 6ES7517-3TP00-0AB0 6ES7517-3FP00-0AB0 6ES7517-3AP00-0AB0 6ES7513-1FL02-0AB0 6ES7511-1FK02-0AB0 6ES7511-1AK02-0AB0 6SL3210-1KE14-3UF2 6SL3210-1KE15-8AF2 6ES7516-3UN00-0AB0 6ES7516-3TN00-0AB0 6ES7522-1BL10-0AA0 6ES7522-1BH10-0AA0 6ES7368-3BB01-0AA0 6SL3210-1KE21-3AF1 UNIS GROUP, YOUR #1 PARTNER IN INDUSTRIAL ELECTRONICS Take a look in our webshop or contact our sales team! Directly available And much more! +44 1604 499 777

April 2024 8 Mach 2024 15-19 April, 2024, NEC, Birmingham Described as “the UK’s only live, national event showcasing sustainable, innovative technologies used across the manufacturing spectrum”, Mach 2024 will introduce a series of hubs focusing on speci†c technologies: automation and robotics; data and AI; energy eŠciency; additive manufacturing; and tooling. Each hub will be managed by one of the specialist centres from the High Value Manufacturing Catapult. Hannover Messe 22-26 April, 2024, Hannover, Germany The industrial megashow returns bringing together exhibitors from digital industries, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, robotics and the energy sector. Key topics will include Industry 4.0/Manufacturing-X, digitisation, AI and machine learning. The fair will include a Research and Innovation Summit for the †rst time. The partner country is Norway. CWIEME Berlin 14-16 May, 2024, Berlin, Germany The world’s largest show dedicated to motor manufacturing, coil winding, transformers, generators and e-mobility, expects to welcome more than 6,000 attendees and 600 exhibitors over its three days. More than 50 speakers have been lined up for the event, o™ering more than 25 hours of content. There will be a new zone dedicated to start-ups in areas including highperformance motors, sensors and power electronics. Drives & Controls 5-6 June, 2024, NEC, Birmingham Now part of Smart Manufacturing & Engineering Week, the Drives & Controls show will run alongside other events including Air-Tech, Fluid Power & Systems, Maintec, Smart Factory Expo and Design & Engineering Expo. It will cover areas including industrial automation, energy eŠciency, machine safety, drives, motion controls, power transmission and robotics. drives-controls-expo-home Smart Manufacturing & Engineering Week 5-6 June, 2024, NEC, Birmingham The event will include the Maintec, Smart Factory Expo and Design & Engineering Expo shows and will run alongside Drives & Controls, Air-Tech, Fluid Power & Systems. The organisers say the “Festival of Industrial Innovation” represents the future of manufacturing and engineering in the UK. As well as the exhibitions there will be conferences and summits. Automation UK 2024 18-19 June, 2024, CBS Arena, Coventry The two-day robotics and automation show will return for its second appearance with the organiser, Bara (the British Automation & Robot Association) planning to double the space of the †rst event, held in 2023. Some exhibitors – Beckho™, for example – are planning to double the size of their stands. Other exhibitors include ABB, Fanuc, Pilz, Yaskawa, Kuka, CKF, Festo and RARUK Automation. Machine Vision Conference 2024 18-19 June, 2024, CBS Arena, Coventry Now in its eighth year, the Machine Vision Conference and exhibition aims to promote the use of imageprocessing technologies, educating visitors about new processes, and helping them to †nd technologies that can improve their processes and cut costs. The event is organised by UKIVA (the UK Industrial Vision Association). n NEWS SIEMENS IS BUYING the industrial drive technology (IDT) business of the German fans and mechatronic systems manufacturer, ebm-papst, for an undisclosed sum. The business, which employs around 650 people in Germany and Romania, produces intelligent mechatronic systems in the protective ELV (extra-low voltage range) as well as motion control systems used in AGVs. Ebm-papst’s products are used in mobile robots and driverless vehicles as well as in the automation of auxiliary processes, such as the retooling of production machines. Siemens says they are an important lever for greater flexibility and productivity. It expects high growth in this sector. Siemens adds that the planned acquisition will complement its Xcelerator portfolio and strengthen its position as a leading supplier of flexible automation systems. “ebm-papst’s innovative portfolio of mechatronic drive systems and its highly qualified people are an excellent fit for Siemens,” says Siemens board member Cedrik Neike, who is also CEO of its Digital Industries business. “The acquisition will enable us to tap new business and customer potential in the rapidly growing market for intelligent, battery-powered drive solutions in intralogistics as well as mobile robot solutions.” For its part, ebm-papst says that the sale will give IDT access to international markets through a larger global sales organisation. It now intends to focus on its core business of air and heating technologies and to accelerate its transformation in terms of sustainability and digitisation, as well as international expansion. In mid-2022, ebm-papst carved out IDT as an independent division to operate independently of the requirements for air and heating technology. “Our IDT division is extremely attractive and offers high development potential, especially internationally,” says ebm-papst group CEO, Dr Klaus Geißdörfer .“We also have technologically leading product solutions and highly qualified employees. However, what we have lacked in this division so far is a global sales organisation that offers us full growth and development opportunities. “We’ll use the proceeds from the sale of the IDT business to further expand our air technology and heating technology divisions, to further strengthen our three regions – Europe, Asia and the Americas – and to invest in future fields of our product portfolio, such as digitalisation and sustainability,” Geißdörfer adds. “This will enable us to meet the long-term market demand for energy-efficient solutions, particularly in the future markets of data centres, cleanrooms and heat pumps.” Siemens is taking on all 650 IDT employees based in St. Georgen and Lauf an der Pegnitz in Germany, and Oradea in Romania. Drives which are currently produced at the Hagenmoos plant in St. Georgen, will be relocated to Oradea. In future, the St. Georgen plant will only produce fan components. The transaction is expected to be completed by mid-2025, subject to trade and merger control approvals. Siemens buys ebm-papst’s drive technology business Assembly work at the ebm-pabst facility in Lauf an der Pegnitz, in Germany Photo copyright: Christof Wolf

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n NEWS April 2024 10 A UK START-UP is using robotic microfactories to build a ordable, lowenergy timber homes. London-based AUAR (Automated Architecture) plans to use the robots to tackle skills shortages, boost sustainability, and improve health and safety via a global network of local microfactories which will build energy-e cient, a ordable buildings from sheet timber. AUAR is the brainchild of two architects, Mollie Claypool (CEO) and Gilles Retsin (CTO/chief architect), who have worked for more than 10 years on robotics, automation, construction and architecture. The company has just completed a £2.6m seed round led by the AI fund Miles Ahead, with ABB Robotics & Automation Ventures being among the investors. AUAR believes that its approach tackles many of the challenges facing the building industry, such as supply chain issues, project delivery, quality and skills shortages. Conventional buildings consist of thousands of di erent components shipped from around the world, making it almost impossible to automate their construction. AUAR’s goal is to work with one type of material – wood – and one type of machine, dramatically simplifying the supply chain. The production process uses standard sheets of timber. A robot cuts the sheets into components and assembles them into modules that are transported to site, allowing customised homes to be built in a matter of weeks. While many of the assembly tasks are automated, AUAR’s approach supports local jobs by promoting the use of microfactories close to construction sites, where local contractors and suppliers coordinate delivery. Each factory can be scaled to meet local needs, with the ability to ramp up production by adding more modular robot cells. ABB is supplying the robots for AUAR’s microfactories, while AUAR has developed its own gripper technology. So far, there is one microfactory operating in Belgium and another is planned for the US. AUAR plans to licece its technology to construction —rms. A recent ABB survey of building —rms found that 38% of them see robots as a way of cutting waste. “The increasing capabilities of robots enabled by vision and AI, coupled with their inherent speed, œexibility and consistency, makes them the ideal solution for meeting the growing need for a ordable, high quality, sustainable housing,” says Craig McDonnell, managing director of ABB Robotics’ industries business. “With the focus on the dual needs of building more a ordable homes and minimising the environmental footprint of buildings throughout their lifetime, automated modular construction presents a great opportunity to rethink the way that the buildings are constructed.” UK start-up is using robots to build homes in microfactories SCHNEIDER ELECTRIC HAS LAUNCHED a membership service for its customers to help them with digital transformations by giving them access to expert advice, expedited emergency response SLAs, continuous monitoring, optimised maintenance, and recommendations for enhancing system performance and energy management. The EcoCare service will operate from Schneider’s Connected Services Hub in Warrington. According to Kelly Becker, president of Schneider’s UK & Ireland operation, “members of the EcoCare membership service will bene—t from advanced digital functionalities that deliver real-time insights and drive further reduced downtime, enhanced operational e ectiveness, and improved environmental sustainability”. Schneider says that EcoCare membership will: ncut unplanned downtime by up to 75% through faster response times and 24/7 remote monitoring and alarming; ncut planned downtime by up to 40% using condition-based maintenance, and enabling dynamic maintenance scheduling; and nextend asset lifecycles and reduce carbon emissions. The EcoCare package includes access to: na team of remote and on-site experts; nfaster response times, with spare parts discounts, for improved e ciency and reliability; and ntechnologies that enable digital transformation, and expert recommendations on how to enhance system performance and energy management. There are three levels of EcoCare service ranging from “Essential”, which o ers remote access to experts and 24/7 monitoring and alarming, to “Advanced+”, which includes condition-based maintenance and recommendations for dynamic maintenance. Schneider’s Connected Services Hub in Warrington is part of a global network of hubs to provide access to more than 125 experts around the clock, around a quarter of them being based in the UK. Schneider service will help members to make digital transformations AUAR is using ABB robots to assemble its timber building modules in microfactories Schneider Electric’s EcoCare scheme will use a team of experts based at its Connected Services Hub in Warrington.

n NEWS NEWS n April 2024 11 AT THE HANNOVER MESSE later this month, Siemens will unveil a portfolio of software and hardware for designing and operating drivetrains e ciently and sustainably. Called Siemens Xcelerator for Digital Drivetrain, it will allow users to combine the real and digital worlds of drive technologies to achieve e ciency and sustainability for entire drivetrains. The portfolio consists of two main elements: nDrivetrain Design, including engineering and simulation tools for dimensioning, validation, testing, virtual commissioning and optimisation of drivetrains during the design phase of machines or systems. nDrivetrain Health, o€ering hardwareand software-based sensor and connectivity systems for data acquisition, as well as analysis tools that deliver insights into the behaviour of drivetrains and enable condition monitoring. For simulation and virtual commissioning, Siemens is launching DriveSim Engineer, which succeeds the earlier DriveSim Advanced. The new tool can create a digital twin of a drive with all of the real drive’s parameters and con†gurations. The tool will support the recently launched Sinamics S210 servodrives, as well as the Sinamics G220 frequency converters. The digital twin technology will allow users to simulate, commission and optimise drive systems virtually before installing them in the real world, increasing e ciency and productivity in the engineering of drive systems and machines. DriveSim Engineer integrates with TIA Portal and avoids the need to train on other tools. Bene†ts are said to include: faster commissioning, more accurate detection and resolution of problems; and real-time insights and analyses for improving drive system performance. The new portfolio o€ers a choice between cloud-based or PC-based systems for drivetrain condition monitoring. The two complement each other and can be chosen depending on the user’s needs. Drivetrain Analyzer Cloud merges the earlier Analyze MyDrives and Sidrive IQ Fleet applications into one. It o€ers users the option of connecting components such as inverters, motors or other rotating machines to a drivetrain and monitoring its status. Another new product is the Connection Module IOT (CM IOT), which measures raw data and transfers it to the cloud. It can be up and running in a few minutes, and can be powered from a 24V supply. Drivetrain Analyzer Cloud provides information on anomalies and error patterns such as bearing damage, imbalances or misalignments, thus helping to avoid unplanned downtime. It combines condition monitoring with decarbonisation by providing data and recommendations for action on CO” emissions, energy consumption and energy costs. Built-in pump analytics can calculate and analyse system e ciencies and pump parameters. The new PC-based condition-monitoring technology consists of three main elements: the VIB (Vibration) and FPP (Fast Process Parameters) connection modules, and the Drivetrain Analyzer X-Tools software, as well as sensors and cables. The modules record vibration and analogue signals at 96kHz sampling rates. The technology allows users to analyse high-speed, intermittent machines such as presses, cranes, or machine tools with two synchronous axes. Drivetrain Analyzer XTools can acquire dynamic data at up to 192kHz, or be used for manual data analysis. Because it can connect to almost any data source, the software can be used to link users’ analytics with precon†gured libraries. For example, the software can monitor bearing temperatures, housing vibrations, and oil lubrication pressure and ™ow, in heavy machines with plain bearings. Drivetrain portfolio combines real and digital worlds to boost efficiency A new PC-based condition-monitoring element of the Digital Drivetrain portfolio includes connection modules, and software to analyse high-speed machines such as presses, cranes and machine tools New group will champion the uptake of automation in the UK A NEW ORGANISATION has been launched to champion the uptake of automation in UK manufacturing. Called the UK Automation Forum, it brings together industry experts, end-users, policy-makers and technology suppliers to discuss the adoption of automation technologies in the UK. It aims to turn the UK into a world-leading user of robotic and automation technologies, addressing the poor take-up of robotics in the country, compared to its global rivals. The Forum is being supported by trade associations, including Automate UK (formerly the PPMA Group), the MTA (Manufacturing Technologies Association), Make UK and Gambica. Its goal is to drive collaboration, highlight the bene†ts of automation, help break down barriers to adoption, and in™uence opinion. “We are creating a community of leading experts and businesses to ensure that all members of the industry have a voice,” says Mike Wilson, chief automation o cer at the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC), who is chairman of the new Forum. “We will then use this voice to work together to drive improvements for mutual bene†t.” The Forum will host live events and roundtable discussions, while promoting careers in automation and breaking down barriers for users, employees and manufacturers. It will also gather end-users’ opinions to ensure that automation suppliers are meeting their needs. Another major goal of the Forum is to in™uence policy-makers. “The aim is to use our combined voice to in™uence government and policy,” says Automate UK CEO, Peter Williamson.

n NEWS ENGINUITY, A CHARITY whose mission is to nd new ways of closing the UK’s engineering and manufacturing skills gap, has published a roadmap aimed at securing the future of the sector. It is calling on employers, training providers, and policymakers to work together on ve key priorities for building and maintaining a skilled workforce for the future. The publication, called Enginuity Skills Action Plan for the Engineering and Manufacturing Sector – A Manifesto for Change, also o€ers a roadmap for the engineering and manufacturing workforce to adapt to the demands of new technologies and the transition to net-zero. The Action Plan’s ve key priorities are: nUpskilling and reskilling Identifying key transferable skills and working with educational institutions, training providers, and SMEs to support learners in attaining them, helping the sector to keep pace with change. nAttracting people to engineering and manufacturing Working to improve the sector’s image among young people and to increase diversity in recruitment, thus alleviating the estimated 173,000 shortfall in workers expected to a€ect the UK’s STEM sector in the coming ve years. nFlexible and responsive quali cation and learning systems Ensuring that training is standardised, relevant and adequately funded, giving the next generation of recruits the skills they need for the future. nA robust and cohesive evidence base Working with Enginuity to collect and use training and skills data, helping the sector to make more informed decisions and to determine the success of interventions. nFunding systems Ensuring that the Apprenticeship Levy and post-16 funding are used optimally, while improving accessibility for employers and training providers, and building a responsive, ”exible and transparent funding system. “Now is the time to act,” warns Dame Judith Hackitt, who chairs the Enginuity Group. “If we do nothing, the sector will survive, but it will fail to thrive, and we will fail in our endeavour to be a leading global player in engineering and manufacturing. “The engineering and manufacturing sector is staring in the face of enormous challenges and fantastic opportunities,”adds Enginuity CEO, Ann Watson. “In order to meet them head-on, we need employers, training centres, educational institutions, and policymakers to work together. If we act now, we can prepare the existing workforce and attract a whole new generation of engineering talent.” Roadmap aims to secure future of UK engineering and manufacturing Enginuity chair Dame Judith Hackitt: Now is the time to act

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A STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION? You may have noticed that humanoid robots are a bit of a theme in this issue. There appears to be something of a perfect storm at the moment with several factors combining to propel these walking wonders into our factories and warehouses. The robots and their components are getting cheaper, their technologies are becoming more sophisticated (partly driven by AI), they are attracting substantial investments, and they oer a possible answer to labour shortages, potentially replacing human workers directly in many tasks. Or, at least, that’s what the enthusiasts would have you believe. But there are many hurdles to overcome before we nd armies of humanoids tramping around our production plants. For a start, potential users will need to be convinced that the humanoid robots are reliable and – above all – safe. Humanoids may be very impressive at demonstrating their party tricks in pristine laboratory conditions, but will they perform as well in dirty, complex, unpredictable factories? These are extremely complex machines, some with more than 70 degrees of freedom and multiple potential points of failure. It may be that fully articulating hands with individually controllable nger joints will be an overkill for most industrial applications and that simpler grippers will su†ce, and will prove more reliable than trying to replicate delicate human hands. Safety will be essential if humanoid robots are to share workspaces with humans. If any incidents do occur, they will be splashed across news media around the world within hours. Any fatalities could stop the humanoids in their tracks, setting the technology back for many years – perhaps forever. But if the humanoids can be shown to operate reliably and safely, they have many potential attractions, one of which is that they will be operating in environments designed for similarly-shaped human workers. Few changes will be needed to existing plants to accommodate the mechanical workforce. And unlike AMRs or AGVs, they can cope with inconveniences such as stairs. It will be interesting to see how human employees react to the arrival of the automated co-workers. Will the robots’ anthropomorphic form make them more acceptable, or will they be seen as a bigger threat than traditional robots? At present, most of the humanoids are being developed by relatively small start-ups, rather than industrial automation giants. The large players are no doubt watching developments closely and if they see potential threats (or opportunities) for their businesses, they will want to get into the humanoid market at an early stage – probably by acquiring existing players. No doubt, over the coming years, we’ll be seeing lots of videos of mishaps as humanoid robots attempt to move into their new industrial environments, but if their proponents are correct, they could become a common sight in the manufacturing landscape within a decade. Tony Sacks, Editor n COMMENT

Drives&Controls & BACK TO BASICS n SPONSORED BY Pumping slower for longer can be easy energy win When pumps are slowed down, they can bene t from eciency improvements. In the water industry, pumping slower for longer can unlock signi cant energy savings, as Clayton Mead, ABB’s water industry manager for the UK, explains. The amount of energy a pump needs to do its job can be reduced to a simple equation: power multiplied by time. A 100kW pump operating for one hour equates to 100kWh of energy. However, because pumps are generally cube law applications, the relationship between the pump speed and the energy required means that significant savings can be achieved with only small changes in pump control philosophy. At a time when the UK water industry is under immense pressure to cut costs and improve service, this can represent an easy win that, in the right application, not only improves efficiency and reduces energy costs, but also extends pump operating lifetimes. Consider a pump which is being used to empty a 100,000 litre tank. Using our simplified equation above, if we were to pump at 1,000 litres per hour, it will take 100 hours to empty the whole tank. A 100kW pump running for 100 hours would use 10,000kWh which, at 20 pence per kWh, equates to £2,000 in energy costs. However, if we use a drive to reduce the speed of the pump motor to 80%, this would provide a pumping rate of 800 litres per hour, and the tank will now take 125 hours to empty. The same 100kW pump will now use only 50kW for 125 hours. This will use 6,250kWh which, at 20p/kWh, equates to an energy cost of £1,250 – a 35% saving. It must be acknowledged that not all applications offer the latitude to make changes such as this but, conversely, not all processes necessarily have to be carried out at specific times and could, for instance, be run at night when demand is lower. This is just one example of how many small changes, when put together, can add up to big energy savings. Many pump applications in the water industry are installed and then not revisited, sometimes for years. Optimising the control philosophy by small amounts will often make no noticeable difference to the effectiveness or outcome of a process, but when you add them up, can save substantial amounts of energy. n To find out more about the ABB Energy and Optimisation Appraisal for the water industry, search for “ABB Water Challenge“. igus® Caswell Road Northampton NN4 7PW Tel 01604 677240 motion plastics® Perfect for robots igus® the-chain ... moving energy made easy ... Save time & increase reliability ... triflex® TRCF for maximum robot reliability: 3-chamber system for large hoses and cables. Easy to open using a screwdriver and easy to vary the length. Now 25% more push-pull strength. Available in sizes 65, 85,100 Ø, and in dresspack modules. More at

In the ever-evolving landscape of industrial safety, machinery safety technology stands at the forefront of innovation, shaping the future of workplace safety. The current trends in this critical eld are characterised by a blend of advanced technology integration and a proactive approach to risk management. Modern safety- eldbus connected devices are making a big impact in machinery safety by enabling devices to communicate over the machine’s existing control network, enhancing the exibility, eciency and responsiveness of safety systems at the same time drastically reducing downtime. The role of Safety Hardware The critical role of safety interlocks in machinery safety cannot be overstated. These devices serve as a fundamental component in protecting workers from potential hazards associated with operating machinery. Euchner, a pioneer in the eld of safety technology, o ers an array of safety interlocks that are emblematic of innovation and reliability in this arena. Among its standout products, the MGB2 (Multifunctional Gate Box) exempli es how Euchner's solutions seamlessly integrate into safety systems, providing not just access control, including ‘key-in-pocket’ safeguarding, but comprehensive safety and standard functions as well. Safety & Productivity Real-time monitoring capabilities represent another signi cant advancement, allowing for continuous oversight of machinery health and operational status. This not only ensures immediate detection of potential safety breaches but also facilitates predictive maintenance, thereby pre-empting accidents before they occur. These trends underscore a pivotal shift towards more integrated, intelligent, and interconnected safety solutions, driven by the imperative to safeguard lives and enhance productivity. The adoption of such advanced technologies in machinery safety not only mitigates risks but also exempli es Euchner’s commitment to fostering safer, more resilient work environments. Innovative guard locking with the compact CTS and the CTA for harsh environments Safety switches with guard locking are the key to keeping production personnel safe from harm and safeguarding processes. Transponder-coded safety switches with guard locking o er the highest safety level and are adopted by many equipment builders & OEM’s. The CTS safety switch from Euchner is the latest development in this eld. Measuring only 135 by 31 by 31 mm and featuring a locking force up to 3,900 N, plus diverse mounting options, it is versatile enough for almost any application. The CTS can be mounted in three directions to protect both hinged and sliding doors. A new, retro ttable escape release greatly expands the range of applications. As the actuator de nes the functions, the need for many di erent variants is removed. The CTA safety switch has already proven its worth time after time. Its robust metal housing and a locking force of up to 8,000 N makes it suitable for use on the heaviest of doors. O ering a high IP65/IP67/IP69/IP69K degree of protection, this switch is the perfect choice for almost any industrial use – especially if this involves a harsh, dirty environment. All guard locking devices can be connected in several di erent ways. Combining the devices with an EUCHNER IO-Link Gateway gives them the additional bene t of communicating in Industry 4.0 Ready for anything the future may bring COVER STORY High locking force, a compact design and maximum exibility are the hallmarks of the new CTS guard locking device CTA transponder-coded guard locking device in use in the harshest conditions

applications, information such as the general health of the device, the number of operations and even the control voltage can all be read from the system over the standard connection cable. One device, many applications: the CKS2 safe key system The CKS2 from EUCHNER is a new, safe key system that is simple to integrate into the overall control system and suitable for a wealth of applications. The user decides whether to use the device as a lockout system, authorisation system or key transfer system by selecting the appropriate keys and programming the control system accordingly. EUCHNER calls this versatility “FlexFunction.” Highly coded, transponderbased keys ensure the highest possible safety level. The device can be connected to IO-Link using the Gateways from EUCHNER. The CKS2 is also available as a submodule for the MGB2 Modular, which opens up a wealth of new uses for this successful door locking system. The multi-talented MGB2 Modular is now even more capable The MGB2 Modular secures safety doors and fences on machines and installations during hazardous machine movements. A modular design is the secret behind the system’s adaptability to speci‹c requirements. The MGB2 Modular consists of a locking module, plug-in submodules with control and indicating functions, plus an MBM bus module for connecting to PROFINET/Pro‹SAFE and now to EtherCAT/FSoE and EtherCAT P/FSoE as well. Two submodules let you integrate up to six di’erent controls and indicators in the locking module. All information from the connected modules comes together in the MBM bus module and is transferred to the installation’s control system. Comprehensive diagnostic and communication functions in the form of EtherCAT or PROFINET messages and the integrated web server provide a fast, detailed overview of the device status. Machinery Safety Consulting, Engineering and Training The key to a safe installation is knowledge & experience. Navigating the regulatory landscape of machinery safety is a complex but is a crucial aspect of implementing safety technology. Compliance with international standards and regulations ensures not only the safety and well-being of workers but also the legal and operational integrity of businesses. Standards, such as ISO 13849 for safety of machinery and ISO 12100 for risk assessment and risk reduction, dictate the design, implementation, and maintenance of safety measures in industrial settings. Euchner’s global team of experts help manufacturers and operating organisations meet legal safety requirements in all machine and installation life cycles. The experienced team can support customers as a full engineering services provider. Alongside design and planning, these services encompass the implementation and integration of safety solutions. Machine operating organisations in particular bene‹t from the comprehensive services for conversions, integration and retro‹tting. The EUCHNER Academy additionally provides practical training on everything relating to machinery safety. Euchner's commitment to developing safety devices like the MGB2 and CKS2 is a testament to their alignment with stringent safety standards. By incorporating such advanced safety solutions, businesses can ensure they meet or exceed the regulatory requirements, fostering a culture of safety and compliance. Moreover, Euchner's innovations often anticipate future regulatory changes, providing clients with solutions that are not just compliant today but are poised to meet tomorrow's safety challenges. This proactive approach to compliance not only mitigates the risk of penalties and operational disruptions but also enhances the company's reputation as a leader in safety and reliability in the machinery safety technology sector. For further information visit, email or call the Safety Technology Centre on +44 (0)114 256 0123. The compact CKS2 key system is available for installation in machines and as a submodule for the MGB2 door protection system The MGB2 Modular door locking system is now available in a version for connection to EtherCAT P/FSoE and EtherCAT/FSoE in addition to PROFINET/Pro‚SAFE