Motor Drives in Material Handling
Many of the changes users want to see in motor drives involve ease of use. According to Steve Wirtz, senior applications engineer, Rockwell Automation/Allen-Bradley, Tech Support Wizards built into the drive provide one answer. However, ease of connecting to a variety of networks is also necessary. “About 90 percent of what we ship is a network drive,” says Wirtz. As a result, Rockwell provides the ability to connect to nine different control networks.
Miles Mahaffy, Multi Drive sales manager, Power & Control Sales, ABB Inc., reinforced the need for ease of use in drives. Based on market research that ABB performed, users are looking for two key requirements: motor drives that are simple to control and setup and motor drives with a convenient operator interface. One of ABB answers is FlashDrop, a portable tool for motor drive parameter setting and selecting. With FlashDrop, users can “set up a drive without ever powering it on,” says Mahaffy.
For conveyors, it could be out with the old and in with the new. “Probably the hottest trend is the use of dc power rollers,” according to HK Systems’ Bob Barnes, director, Project Management/Engineering, HK Systems. One reason is that users want to reduce noise. The dc powered conveyors produce only 60 dB at 200 ft/min compared to the normal 75 dB. However, the electrical solution also can reduce energy. Users can see a decrease in energy from 20 to 30 percent, since the units only run as required. Modular sections of dc powered rollers can operate separately or in a daisy chain to create a longer conveyor with either linear or curve sections. Get more information on FlashDrop.
Mobile computing in an industrial environment usually requires a different approach for designing and selecting hardware. “Rather than hardwire everything to the board, we make it modular,” says Brent Felker, Americas VP, Mobile Solutions, Psion Teklogix. The tradeoffs for this design approach make the hardware slightly larger, but the modular choice at the time of purchase can extend a product’s useful life. One of the more recent additions that Psion Teklogix made to its WORKABOUT PRO family is the WORKABOUT PRO Speech. Get more information on the WORKABOUT PRO Speech.
Sensors in Material Handling
In addition to the binary and analog data, sensors could provide additional information. To access this information, SICK Inc. and a number of sensor companies have established IO-Link to achieve standardization for connecting the last meter. “Right now the IO-Link is designed using the Profibus field model but we plan to integrate other typical field bus models,” says Marty Greimel, director, Industrial Sensors, SICK Inc.
Demonstrating a beta-level version, ifm efector has taken the next step toward a low-cost 3D sensor. “The camera element is a 64 × 48 matrix,” says Ernie Maddox, product manager for position sensors at ifm efector. “Typical machine vision at the low end starts with 640 × 480.” For use at a distance of one meter from the target, the narrow field sensor has three outputs that provide digital and analog information. A single CMOS chip performs the sensing and all the processing for distance and time of flight. Users can expect to see the 3D sensor in 2007. Get more information on IO-Link.
With featured speakers on topics from China’s impact on change and the economic outlook for 2007 to Homeland security and even input from the World Poker Tour, HK System’s Material Handling & Logistics Conference seemed to have something for everyone. Held Sept. 17-20 in Park City, UT, the conference focus was on the changes required to keep pace in a rapidly changing world. Here are a few areas of special interest to Design News’ readers.