25 May, 2019

Siemens unveils small but powerful piezo¬hydraulic actuator

07 November, 2014

Researchers at Siemens have developed a small but powerful piezo¬hydraulic actuator. Although it is only about nine centimetres long, it can apply a force of more than 150 newtons – equivalent to a weight of 15 kilograms. Such actuators are used to operate valves and flaps, for example, and can also be employed in robots.

Multiple use of sensors

25 September, 2014
Garford’s Robocrop precision guided weed control equipment applies position, pressure and temperature sensor technologies from Variohm. Peterborough-based Garford Farm Machinery designs and manufactures advanced environmentally sustainable agricultural equipment that solves large scale weed control and crop cultivation for farming worldwide. Its ‘Robocrop’ range employs a specially developed precision guided vision system – for weeding, hoeing or spraying – that uses real-time digital image analysis in conjunction with a hydraulic servo ‘sideshift’ assembly that laterally positions various multiple tools exactly on or within the crop rows as the tractor mounted equipment is driven forwards. The precision guided tools are used for mechanical weed control; to remove individual unwanted plants, hoe between rows of plants, or spray rows of plants – with impressive lateral positional accuracies of better than 10 mm at average tractor speeds of 12 km/hr. With this type of agricultural machinery experiencing extreme environmental and physical conditions, Garford has turned to Variohm EuroSensor to provide durable precision linear and rotary sensors for steering angle and lateral shift position feedback. To complete the package of sensors on the Robocrop range, Variohm also supplies combined pressure and temperature sensors for hydraulic system monitoring. Video image analysis The Robocrop InRow Weeder is the latest in the Garford range and utilises the tried and tested video image analysis technique to locate crop plants through pixel and colour recognition and then use this information to control individual rotating weeding discs which actually hoe the area between the plants (inter-row) or in line with the plants (inter-plant), eradicating competing weeds but leaving crops intact. The InRow Weeder features multiple individual discs which operate across several crop rows with a maximum width of six metres. The rotation of each disc is synchronised with the forward speed of the tractor and the plant positional information from an imaging camera which can cover a two metre width. Each weeding disc is coupled to a hydraulic motor, driven via a proportional valve controlled by the cab mounted Robocrop computer, which includes an HMI display to select modes and display operational information. To achieve accurate lateral guidance of the equipment, a Variohm SP2800 series rotary potentiometer is located on the ground contacting steering discs and feeds back steering angle information to the system. Garford use the Variohm LWG series linear potentiometer on the sideshift to feedback lateral position information to the inter-row hydraulic servo system. It also provides a steering aid for the driver when the machine is set up as an in-row weeder. Both of these Variohm sensor products have been used extensively for agricultural equipment applications. IP67 sealed housing The 28 mm diameter SP2800 series angle sensor features conductive plastic technology with multiple layer tracks in combination with precious metal multi-fingered wipers arranged in a unique preloaded design that ensures a very high resistance to shock and vibration. For Garford, the sensor is supplied in an IP67 sealed temperature resistant Duraplast plastic housing although aluminium housed alternatives are available. With a repeatability of 0.01 per cent of measuring range and an operating temperature range of -40 to +150degC, the SP2800 ensures a long working life of more than 50 million cycles with excellent reliability, competitive costs and straightforward installation. The LWG linear position sensor, from Variohm's German distribution partner Novotechnik, has a pedigree of high reliability under arduous dynamic conditions. The sensor’s high resolution potentiometric output is achieved with a conductive plastic resistance element and a precious metal, multi-finger wiper system with elastomer damping mounted directly on the actuating rod - which is supported with twin bearings for maximum durability. With a shock rating of 50g and vibration to 9g at 2000 Hz, the robust LWG linear position sensor provides a resolution of better than 0.01 mm over a temperature range from -30degC to +100degC – with an operational life of more than 50 million movements. For this application the IP65 rated unit is actually mounted on the outside of the sideshift assembly on backlash-free pivot heads with the anodised aluminium housing and stainless steel actuating rod fully exposed to the elements. Electrical connection is through M12, IP67 rated sealed connectors. Across the LWG series, electrical stroke ranges from 50 mm to 750 mm are available. Completing the range of sensors supplied on the Robocrop InRow Weeder, Variohm’s EPT3100 Pressure and EPTT5100 combined pressure and temperature sensors are used to monitor the input and output hydraulic pressures and return temperature information from the machine. These pressure sensors feature high level ASIC output circuitry with a thin-film strain gauge pressure measuring cell covering a wide range of pressures. For the combined versions, temperature measurement in gas or liquid is via a PT1000 compatible sensor with a rated range of -50degC to +150degC. With IP 66 or IP67 sealing and a high strength stainless steel finish they feature industry-standard port interfaces with sleeved electrical cable and optional boot protection. Through both ranges, a wide choice of voltage and current output options is available. The sensors supplied to Garford are part of a comprehensive range of sensor technologies that Variohm EuroSensor designs, manufactures or sources for linear and rotary position, load, force and vibration measurement in demanding applications throughout industry, agriculture, construction, autosports and research. www.variohm.com

Automation in enclosure assembly

17 September, 2014

Kiesling Maschinentechnik, a member of the internationally successful Friedhelm Loh Group, is a specialist for automation solutions in switchgear manufacture. After a five-year development period, the Averex, the world’s first robotic wiring centre is production-ready. But first, two real-world field tests will be conducted in the second half of 2014. Averex has been specially developed for wiring enclosure mounting plates. The system cuts the wires to the correct length before stripping and crimping with wire ferrules, feeding the wires through the cable duct and attaching them to components such as terminal blocks, contactors and motor circuit breakers. On average it takes around 180 seconds to complete this wiring process manually but Averex finishes the same task in approximately 40 seconds. Exceptionally reliable, Averex uses lasers to identify parts and check their dimensions against the assembly tolerances. Automation reduces the number of required working hours by approximately15 per enclosure compared to manual wiring (based on 300 wires). Control software, with routing module, is particularly simple to use, featuring an intuitive graphics-based operator interface and can be integrated conveniently with electronic wiring lists and CAD layout tools. The solution’s stand-out technical feature is its’ patented machine head, which can be rotated by 270 degrees and includes cable routing, cutting, stripping and crimping units, torque-controlled screwing and, pre punched holes are provided in the reinforcing plate. www.rittal.co.uk

Micro-Epsilon launches its new Measurement Product Guide for 2014

30 April, 2014

The demand and fields of application for high precision displacement, temperature, colour and position sensors are ever increasing. Whether for quality inspection or for applications in maintenance, process and machine monitoring, automation or research and development – sensors are making a vital contribution to the improvement of both products and processes. From machine building, automated food and beverage production lines, to integrated OEM solutions for automotive and aerospace companies, almost all of these applications benefit from the use of Micro-Epsilon sensors. With such a rapidly growing portfolio of sensor products and turnkey measurement systems, Micro-Epsilon has published a new, 36-page ‘Measurement Product Guide 2014’. This fully revised edition provides a summary of Micro-Epsilon’s comprehensive range of products, from sensors for displacement, distance, position and length measurement, to 2D/3D laser sensors for dimensional measurements, colour sensors, non-contact temperature sensors, thermal imaging cameras, and full turnkey measurement and inspection systems. As well as providing information on sensor products, the catalogue also describes the various measuring techniques that the sensors employ, whilst providing application examples supported by photographs and illustrations at every opportunity. The Guide also provides a technical specification summary for each sensor series, including selection factors such as measuring range, linearity, resolution, repeatability, measuring rate, profile frequency and response time. For a copy of the new “Measurement Product Guide 2014” catalogue, call the Micro-Epsilon sales department on 0151 355 6070 or email louise.dodd@micro-epsilon.co.uk www.micro-epsilon.co.uk

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