The latest offerings in the world of automotation products were showcased at the SPS/IPC/Drives show which was held in Germany at the end of 2006

A record 43,000 visitors – an increase of 24 per cent increase over 2005 figures, say the organisers – complemented very positive results from the latest staging of the focused electrical automation show SPS/IPC/Drives in Nuremberg, Germany, held at the end of November 2006.

This added to new records for the number of exhibitors and display area covered. Over 1,200 companies representing 31 countries attended the event.

Over 77,500 square metres of exhibition space was covered, making the 2006 show the largest in the event’s history. Three key theme areas were the centre of SPS/ IPC/DRIVES 2006: ‘Ethernet in Automation’, ‘Safety and Security in Automation’ and ‘Motion Control.’

The German Engineering Federation presented solutions for the automation of manufacturing facilities, within the framework of a special presentation called ‘Applied Automation,’ in Hall 6. Numerous presentations by users demonstrated how manufacturing products and systems can be applied to the advantage of the customer. Examples from various sectors were given, including the packaging industry, logistics and handling technology.


Euchner of Leinfelden near Stuttgart, is a 50-year-old family business which specialises in the design and development of switching devices for controlling a wide variety of motions in machine and plant construction. It is a global player with 10 subsidiaries worldwide.

The company was awarded seventh place in the Elektro Automation Awards for its STF Safety Switch. The STF switch is derived from the proven STP safety switch with guard locking (power to release) and also offers a latch for the guard locking plunger. With the machine shutdown, the guard locking always remains in its current position. With power off, the safety door either remains locked or can be opened and closed as required. The guard locking can not be activated. It is no longer possible for maintenance or cleaning personnel to become unintentionally locked inside the danger zone.


Festo launched a new line of motors and amplifiers use new, as well as time-tested pneumatic, servo-pneumatic and electrical drive technologies.

Festo recognise that increasingly, modern machinery and equipment combine complex handling, test, assembly and processing tasks. To an ever greater extent, the economy and performance levels of systems of this sort depend on the choice of the right drive technology.

Electrical, pneumatic and servo-pneumatic – the right partner should ideally be able to offer all three types of drive technology. Everything from a single source: Festo’s cylinder portfolio includes the ideal solution for every application at an economically attractive price.


Igus showcased the work it did with Corus Rail, a steel rail manufacturer based in Workington, UK where it replaced the existing, freely suspended festoons on its indoor and outdoor cranes with energy chains, drastically reducing maintenance requirements and associated costs.

The pre-harnessed new energy chain system supplied by igus UK comprised E4/4 Heavy Duty (HD) plastic energy chains, aluminium guide troughs and Chainflex cables, all specially designed for dynamic applications in rough, corrosive environments.

The company was approached by Corus to install energy chain systems on 17 outdoor portal cranes and nine indoor magnet cranes. The steel is exposed to extreme heat while being formed into rails, when the indoor cranes are used, while the steelworks’ location on the coast means that the outdoor cranes must withstand sand and saltwater spray, as well as adverse weather conditions. In addition to high temperatures, the equipment is exposed to extremes of humidity.

The system was delivered to Corus Rail as a ‘ReadyChain’ complete package, and installed on-site by igus UK. According to Corus, the previous festoon chains were difficult to maintain, whereas with the new equipment, regular visual inspections will be all that is required.

Leuze Electronic

Leuze Electronic presented its complete product range, which includes not only opto-electronic sensors, but also systems for identification, data transmission and image processing tasks, as well as opto-electronics for occupational safety. The display included a number of innovative solutions to open up new scope in automation.

Leuze collective application expertise is invested in standard applications as well as complex, individual highend solutions. It also forms the basis for the modification of standard components or complete new developments of products for new applications. Innovative, practicallyorientated systems are created based on the latest technology, with maximum connectivity as the driving criteria.

Phoenix Contact

The Phoenix Contact booth was buzzing as visitors crowded round to see the new in line controller systems (ILCs). The Phoenix Contact ILC150 ETH makes IT technologies accessible to the mini control system segment allowing significant cost reductions.

The complexity of most IT solutions in manufacturing requires efficient (usually expensive) hardware, and often these machines cannot be used in simpler applications. The small ILC 150 ETH from Phoenix Contact offers IT technology for automation applications for a lower price segment.

Most solutions involve a central controller as well as the engineering system sensors and actuators and a human-machine interface. The small ILC 150 ETH is an alternative to a central controller for small applications or as a decentralised solution for larger automation tasks in an Ethernet network.

The integrated interface of the ILC 150 ETH supports the construction of the Phoenix Contact Inline protocols by simply lining up the input and output terminals of the attached devices. All conceivable sensor and actuator interfaces are present, whether digital or analogue.

To integrate further decentralized devices, an Interbus interface is available in addition to the Ethernet connectivity.

The controller can be accessed remotely over the internet, although a VPN connection (Virtual Private Network) is advisable. The integrated Web server of the ILC 150 ETH means that no run time software licenses are required. For the visualization, a standard browser with Java support is all that is required. Such a browser either already exists in the operating system or it can be downloaded free of charge from the internet.


Pilz Motion Control (PMC) provides an overall solution for machine automation. A new generation of drive-integrated automation systems, PMCprimo Drive, and servo amplifiers, PMCtendo DD, makes the product range more compact and more powerful. Features of the PMCprimo Drive3 and PMCtendo DD5 include quieter running and faster commissioning. Additional benefits in comparison with their predecessors: 30 per cent smaller dimensions and a significant cost saving.

Faster processors and more effective control loops have enabled enhanced performance. Innovative technology means the PMCprimo Drive3 and PMCtendo DD5 are not only more economical, but also save space in the control cabinet because of their more compact dimensions.

A Category 3 ‘safe stop’ is now also integrated as standard. Pilz was awarded first place in the Elektro Automation Awards 2006 for its SafetyEYE camera system. With SafetyEYE, Pilz is opening up new horizons for factory and non-factory automation. The safe camera system for three-dimensional zone monitoring was developed by Pilz in conjunction with DaimlerChrysler. Where today’s applications still require a multitude of sensors, SafetyEYE places a customised, three-dimensional protective cocoon around the danger zone.

Detection zones can be configured flexibly and quickly on a PC. With SafetyEYE you can protect, control and monitor with just one system. Users in the safety sector benefit from increased flexibility and productivity, while the security sector benefits from uninterrupted object monitoring and access guarding.

Rockwell Automation

Rockwell Automation’s displays included expansion of its Integrated Architecture production control/information system, with added capability in the Logix platform and FactoryTalk software suite for more real-time information exchange between the user’s production and business systems.

FactoryTalk has been expanded with Production Management and MES Software Based on Service-Oriented Architecture. FactoryTalk ProductionCentre delivers realtime information across discrete and process industries to assist with operational improvement, business risk management and quality assurance.

Machine builders requiring precision high-power capacity provided by Allen-Bradley Kinetix servo drives can now safely and efficiently power down their motion control systems in a wide range of high-speed applications, including packaging, material handling, and converting. Also on show was the new TUV-certified Allen-Bradley Kinetix 6000 Safety servo drive with GuardMotion from Rockwell Automation incorporates a safe-off functionality that allows users to restart machines faster and reduce downtime in the event of unplanned maintenance.

Schneider Electric

On show at Elau’s booth (Elau is a Schneider Electric company) was the integrated motor-drive (IMD) called PacDrive iSH Series intelligent servo module. This drive is designed for packaging machines and other motion control applications. Six models run at 3,000 rpm and output up to 28.3 Nm peak torque. PacDrive iSH features a new IGBT package with position, speed, and current control as onboard functions. A separate controller handles motion trajectories and multi-axis coordination.

Schneider Electric’s engagement in Ethernet-E/A has demonstrated that real-time functions can be achieved with standard Ethernet and offers substantial advantages over conventional field bus solutions.

The Schneider Electric product range has been designed for the international automation market, and can, according to the individual automation task, be augmented by products of other device and equipment providers. According to the company, automation IT is a step in the right direction and complements the offerings with the appropriate installation technology and connectivity.


‘Modular Robotics’ was a theme of the Schunk display. Models including the PRL, Three- and Four-Finger Hands SDH and SAH, as well as modules of the PowerCube-Series were combined easily and quickly to create flexible robotic solutions. The resulting robot structures and lightweight arms are mainly used for measuring and inspection automation, industrial robots, and in service and personal robotics.

The electrically-operated SDH (Schunk Dextrous Hand) is equipped with three identical, double-jointed gripper fingers, of which two fingers can be reconfigured with coupled movement at the base by 90° in opposing directions.

Localised contact forces are registered and transmitted back to the controls by means of six tactile sensor fields on the grip surfaces, enabling not only object recognition, but also a delicate, tactile and secure gripping process. The seven independent movement joints of the SDH enable performance of the industrial gripping types of ‘three-finger centric’, ‘two-finger parallel’ or ‘cylindrical grip’ among others, together with many further types of gripping.

This allows the defined positioning of objects gripped in different ways, for example for subsequent jointing.

The Schunk Anthropomorphic Hand (SAH) has been designed especially for use on service robots in both domestic and commercial environments (e.g. hospitals).

Developed on the basis of a study by the German Aerospace Centre and the Harbin Institute of Technology (HIT) in conjunction with Schunk, the hand is based on a 4-finger concept, which makes possible, in unstructured and unforeseeable environments typical of daily life, to solve gripping, handling and manipulation tasks, primarily with day-to-day objects. This project has led to the design of a gripper system similar to the human hand.


SICK-IVP (Integrated Vision Products) presented two new versions of what is still the world’s only 3D smart camera: the IVC-3D. While the IVC-3D 30 has been specially designed to view small and miniature parts, the IVC-3D 300 version focuses on large objects such as loaded pallets which is useful as a sensor for the visual guidance of robots. Like all the other IVC-3D systems, the new versions also leave the factory already calibrated.

These smart cameras are also ready for operation quickly as data output is provided in millimeters, which can be used directly by robotic controllers.

Three-dimensional object inspection and the checking of features – the programmable IVC-3D Industrial Vision Camera is suitable for solving the most varied of industrial tasks. Unlike conventional image processing systems, both the IVC-3D 30 and the IVD-3D 300 are capable of detecting geometrical features regardless of their brightness.

Both systems operate with a line of laser light whose reflection is evaluated in a triangulation process. The laser optics are integrated directly in the housing. As a result, no adjustment is necessary and there is a stable geometry between the illumination and the camera, which remains uniform throughout the entire inspection process.

Whether plastic parts or pallets, both new versions of the IVC-3D combine up to 5,000 profile sections to form a real 3-D image. The height information is ‘encoded’ as gray values during image evaluation. The generation of a realistic depiction of test-pieces is even possible if the objects pass by the measurement window at varying speeds.

This is no problem for the 3-D smart cameras because an incremental encoder can be connected via an RS-422 input for speed and position measurement. Thus objects can also be detected with a high level of precision even if speeds are irregular.


Siemens Automation & Drives (A&D) Group’s main press conference, with these thehemed “Increase your productivity,” emphasized trends such as ultimate modularity in automation system design; energy efficiency of products (motors, drives, machinery), which now seriously affects power costs for end-users and manufacturers; and how to improve production processes through full mechatronic simulation of machine design and commissioning.

Applying available virtual prototyping tools promises dramatic reduction in development times and life-cycle costs for machine developers,

Although SPS/IPC/ Drives had not defined energy efficiency as a separate focus of the fair, Siemens A&D highlighted its current thinking. Over two thirds of power consumption goes into electric drives, so ZVEI, the German central association of the electrical industry, predicts that improvements in electrical drive systems in Germany alone could save roughly 27.5 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity or €2.2 billion per annum.

Siemens A&D has therefore developed solutions for reducing power consumption, both at product and system level. These include energy-saving motors, the consistent use of electronic speed governors, and the recovery of braking energy via converters. For the recovery of braking energy and feedback into the mains, Siemens A&D provides mature technical solutions which meet utilities’ stringent mains purity requirements. In motors, the trend is towards greater levels of efficiency and the leveraging of more energy-saving potential. Examples of innovations include motors with a die-cast copper rotor designed for the North American market. The motor ratings exceed the requirements of the Premium Efficiency Standards of the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) in the US and Canada.