TJ, those are good points. ABB says it took increased heat and power dissipation into account in this redesign. To make the reconfiguration possible, the electronics had gotten smaller and dissipate less heat, in addition to changing the orientation of components within the enclosure.
Space is always at a premium, but sometimes that premium MUST be paid. As the control cabinets become smaller, it can get more difficult to maintain what is within. And, as the conrollers get smaller, the thermal density gets higher. Smaller control cabinets cannot reject the heat as much as larger ones. To handle the heat, an active cooling means will be necessary, adding to maintenance.
From my experience in machine vision, I think the space crunch trend in general has been going on for the last couple of years, or at least that's when I started hearing about it. It might have been building up for an even longer period before that.
It does seem odd this new pressure for space. For years all you heard was the need for more uptime. Even the pressure on energy efficiency is relatively new. Now there's pressure on integration, data sharing, networking, workflow, alternative energies, even efficiency in HVAC. Space is a new one.
I agree that using less floor space certainly resonates with the front office. But I would imagine it also affects time management. Moving, picking and placing of materials must be faster when the distances travelled are smaller.
I can see this from the seller side. I'm interested in how widespread the space-savings demand is on the user end and how much of a competitive advantage this is becoming for vendors like ABB and others who embrace it. Is it a must-have or just a want-to-have? (Also, which other vendors are doing this too?)
I started hearing about taking up less factory floor and plant space during the last couple of years in machine vision contexts. But I'm hearing about it a lot more now regarding robotics cell sizes, in particular regarding to automotive manufacturing, and also in more industrial contexts. If power supplies are getting the same pressure, sounds like a major trend in progress.
Until recently, I hadn't heard much about designing plant systems to take up less space. Right now I'm working on an article about power supplies for plants being designed smaller so they take up less space in crowded control cabinets.
Against the continuing backdrop of tight budgets, anything that can help shrink cell floor space has to resonate with the bean counters in manufacturing companies. Being able to increase robotics functionality without eating up pricey and precious manufacturing square footage is a huge benefit for plant operators looking to bring more automation onto the factory floor.
Altair has released an update of its HyperWorks computer-aided engineering simulation suite that includes new features focusing on four key areas of product design: performance optimization, lightweight design, lead-time reduction, and new technologies.
At IMTS last week, Stratasys introduced two new multi-materials PolyJet 3D printers, plus a new UV-resistant material for its FDM production 3D printers. They can be used in making jigs and fixtures, as well as prototypes and small runs of production parts.
In a line of ultra-futuristic projects, DARPA is developing a brain microchip that will help heal the bodies and minds of soldiers. A final product is far off, but preliminary chips are already being tested.
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