Automate Showcases the Latest Motion Technology
| By: Kristin Lewotsky, Contributing Editor
Four-day event features product demos, expert presentations, the right technology for your motion needs (and a special appearance by Bill Walton and Steve Wozniak!)
We’re in a time of unprecedented change in the area of motion control. The best-in-breed products coming out now offer exceptional functionality, performance, and savings. If you want to see the latest technology in action, get your practical questions answered, and take a sneak peek at what’s next, don’t miss Automate 2015 (March 23-26; McCormick Place, Chicago, Illinois USA).
Co-located with ProMat 2015 and featuring the International Symposium on Robotics, Automate gathers together the top motion, robotics, vision, metrology and automation suppliers to give OEMs and end-users a one-stop shop for their automation needs. It was recently named one of the Top 10 Manufacturing Shows by Superior Business Solutions, and the floor is nearly twice as large as it was in 2013. The motion control section of the show, alone, has grown from a handful of vendors at its 2011 launch to 60 in 2015. It’s not the quantity that counts, though, it’s the quality. “Automate showcases technologies that are innovative and spurs on conversations that aren't possible elsewhere,” says Alexandra Altvater, marketing coordinator at SCHUNK (Mooresville, North Carolina; booth #540). “Gathering all of the leading automation companies in one location with so many ways to network allows for pioneering ideas to develop.”
More than just exhibits
Automate features a comprehensive conference program that includes short courses, training, and technical sessions. Keynotes include Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak with a talk entitled, “What’s Next – The Future Of Technology,” and Renée Niemi, director of the Android and Chrome global business, Google for Work with an address entitled, “Transforming your Manufacturing Business for the New Digital Age.” Keynotes are free to all attendees.
Noteworthy technical sessions include “Big Data, the Cloud, Industry 4.0 - How It Impacts Your Facility” (Tuesday, March 24, 10 AM), aimed squarely at the looming industrial Internet of Things. In “Design Tools For Motion Control” (Tuesday, March 24, 3 PM), Guy Fichera, director of industrial and commercial practice at Boston Engineering Corp. (Waltham, Massachusetts; booth #119) will discuss how using model-based design for motion systems can minimize risk, improve controls development, streamline test, and deliver a more robust product to market faster. A third presentation likely to draw attendees aims to answer the question, "Is It Time to Move From Pneumatic To Electromechanical Automation?" (Tuesday, March 24, 3 PM).
The technical program also includes a number of talks on ways to incorporate vision systems and robotics to achieve best overall performance for a given application.
Gather with the experts
Technical content is essential but the heart of Automate truly lies on the show floor, where attendees have the opportunity to see the latest technology in action, often in full-size machines and/or operating demonstrations. If you’re designing a new platform or just trying to make informed decisions about retrofits, the aisles of Automate are where you want to be. “This show can greatly reduce the desk research time when looking at new components or researching the latest technologies and releases,” says Ben Furnish, marketing director at Parker Hannifin Corp. Electromechanical Division (Rohnert Park, California; booth #1139). “Attendees also have a great opportunity to network and share best practices where possible.”
Among the highlights of the exhibit are the Expert Huddles. In these huddle booths on the show floor, small groups of integrators, OEMs, and end-users can gather with industry experts to discuss motion topics and trends.
- In “Advances in High Speed Motion Systems” RJ Ruberti, team leader of linear systems at SCHUNK will inform integrators and end-users how to reduce the cycle times of linear systems. He’ll be leading a discussion on technologies like advanced roller bearings and ball screw support systems that can be used to position parts ranging from 1 lb. to 1000 lbs. Expect to gain insight from the whole group.
- In “Considerations When Selecting PLC, PC, CNC, Motion and Robot Controller Architecture”, Ben Sagan, of Mitsubishi Electric Automation will discuss what to do when machines with different processing systems need to talk to one another.
- If you’re an OEM designing a product integrating motion, don’t miss “Best Practices and Pitfalls in New Product Development,” by Bob Treiber, president and co-founder of Boston Engineering. Learn how to combine precision and new features with market requirements for cost, form factor, and increasing communications with other devices on the industrial Internet of Things. He’ll highlight processes and best practices to help you get a better product market faster.
In the aisles
The booths of the exhibition are where you can see the technology in action and compare the latest and greatest products from a host of manufacturers. “It is really the only show in North America dedicated to automation technology like motion, vision/sensing, and robotics,” says Aaron Dietrich, director of marketing at Tolomatic Inc. (Hamel, Minnesota; booth #443). It allows OEMs and end-users to search out the technology they need rather than stumbling over it by accident at a vertical market show. If attendees are looking for new automation technology, they’ll find a lot of it housed under one roof where they can see it in action and talk to the experts.”
Without connectivity, even the best motion components are useless. At Automate, Electro-Matic Integrated Inc. (Farmington Hills, Michigan; booth #454) will be showcasing its solutions for power and feedback. In particular, look for their EMI remote-programming ports. Mounted on the outside of the housing, they allow a device to be programmed without the need for personnel to don personal protective equipment and open the enclosure. Electro-Matic also provides end-to-end full cable assemblies ruggedized to survive the industrial environment.
The Gold Twitter delivers up to 4 kW of qualitative power in a package less than 13 cm3 in size. The units offer three times the efficiency and five times the power density of previous models in just a quarter of the volume. They support EtherCAT and CANopen communications and are rugged enough for use in distributed architectures.
High-performance applications can't tolerate backlash. Stop by the booth of Harmonic Drive LLC (Peabody, Massachusetts; booth #1035), where the company is showcasing the newest entry to its cup-style gearing (CSG) solutions, the CSG-2UK. This line of fully-enclosed reducers powers motion with a negligible amount of backlash. The gearheads incorporate an S-shaped tooth profile to double tooth engagement. This delivers higher torque capacity, increased torsional stiffness, and longer lifetime.
MagneMotion Inc. (Devens, Massachusetts; booth #782) will be demonstrating a modular transport and positioning conveyor system called the MagneMover LITE. Designed for light payloads, the system consists of individual components that can be assembled and configured to suit a variety of applications. Precision rails enable ultra high-speed motion while “track and trace” capabilities allow it to monitor each carriage, or puck, on the system as it travels. The devices carry IP65 ratings and are useful for packaging, assembly automation, machinery, and material handling.
In addition, company applications engineers will be conducting hands-on tutorials to allow attendees to learn about programming the systems. See the software in action, learn more about the process, and try out some simple programming yourself.
Nabtesco Motion Control
If your application requires a flat or compact configuration, stop by the booth of Nabtesco Motion Control Inc. (Farmington Hills, Michigan; booth #531), where they’ll be exhibiting their RS Series low-profile gearheads. The input shaft from the servo motor couples to the gearhead at right angles, significantly reducing height. The units feature hollow construction that provides space for cables to pass through the center of the reducer. They’re designed for easy installation and delivered pre-greased. Most of all, they’re designed to be tough.
The company will also be demonstrating its GH-series gearheads, which are small, highly rigid designs that operate with backlash of no more than 6 arc min, at speeds of up to 250 RPM.
Stop by the Parker Hannifin booth to see a demonstration of its new programmable automation controller (PAC), a single unit capable of handling machine logic, signal handling, motion, and visualization. Designed to support machine-to-machine communications and the emerging industrial Internet of Things, the new PAC maintains EtherCAT connectivity, as well as options for Ethernet/IP, Profinet, and Profibus. Embedded visualization tools reduce overall machine cost by performing processing in the PAC and limiting interface requirements to a low-end touchscreen or terminal.
You can see the PAC in action, along with Parker’s OSPE series electric actuators, Compax3 drives, and IPS T-slot framing in an additive manufacturing machine from a Parker OEM.
The company is also showcasing its intelligent Parker Amplifier (IPA), a 1.5-axis servo drive/controller available in 400-W and 1500 W versions. The device can manage up to 16 different tasks simultaneously. It can coordinate 1 ms position captures and is Ethernet IP compatible.
These days, end-users need fast changeovers that enable them to cycle among part numbers to ensure availability while minimizing capital tied up in inventory. At Automate, Tolomatic will be demonstrating a product changeover/lane changer system integrating Allen Bradley stepper/servo drives enabled with Ethernet/IP. The company will also be showcasing the latest addition to its USDA certified, hygienic, IP69k-rated stainless steel actuators, the ERD 22. Designed for food-processing applications, the ERD 22 features a smooth exterior with no gaps to harbor bacteria and a purge port to help eliminate food contamination in the internal workings. It features dual Ethernet ports and supports Ethernet/IP and Modbus TCP.
Weiss North America
Tired of the variability, dynamic performance, and efficiency issues of pneumatic pick-and-place systems? Visit the folks at Weiss North America Inc. (Wiloughby, Ohio; booth #1172) to see their linear-motor-driven HP family of dual-axis pick-and-place positioners that delivers speeds of 40 m/s2, positioning precision of 0.02 mm, and repeatability of 0.01 mm. The HP70 features two horizontal axes packaged in an overall width of just 60 mm. The HP 140 positions along one horizontal and one vertical axis.
Of course, all of these notes ignore one of the principal highlights of Automate 2015 - at least, if you’re a hoops fan. To find out more about the event, including conference registration and free exhibit attendance, visit the Automate website. If you use or plan to use automation this is one show you won’t want to miss!