There was a time not too long ago when any discussion of pneumatic connections involved the air and power supplies. Yet today’s pneumatic systems increasingly have to make another type of connection–to industrial Ethernet. At last week’s Pack Expo show in Las Vegas, pneumatic suppliers showed off valve manifolds and related I/O systems that can bridge the gap between air and electricity. Not all of them are brand new, but these systems continue to evolve with the addition of new connectivity options. Ethernet IP support, in particular, has become important for pneumatics. “Ethernet IP is really hot right now,” says Dave Thomas, a senior applications engineer with Festo. Others suppliers agree. “Ethernet IP is growing quickly in big markets like packaging and automotive,” says Kjell Lyngstad, pneumatics manager for Bosch Rexroth. Click here for a look at three pneumatic systems with growing connectivity options.
Two researchers from Cornell University have won a $100,000 grant from NASA to continue work to develop an energy-harvesting robotic eel the space agency aims to use to explore oceans on one of the moons of Jupiter.
Is the factory smarter than it used to be? From recent buzzwords, you’d think we’ve entered a new dimension in industrial plants, where robots run all physical functions wirelessly and humans do little more than program ever more capable robotics. Some of that is actually true, but it’s been true for a while.
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