Balluff SmartCamera

Intelligent data management contributes to stable production processes

Industry 4.0 – the smart, adaptive factory with short retooling times and decentralized control – aims to generate the most comprehensive data possible within a highly automated process in real-time and provide the most varied instances possible. This status information in the form of process data for control and monitoring of sequences and product data for traceability and quality verification form an objective basis for making decisions in order to take early measures for process optimization.
The information is delivered among other ways from numerous sensors in the system either automatically or on demand. In this simplest case this can be a switching sensor which only generates a status signal, while more complex components like the new Balluff SmartCamera run a variety of sophisticated inspection programs and thus provide a wealth of different information. As part of this increasing digitizing the trend is from traditional fieldbuses like PROFIBUS or DeviceNet to Ethernet-based networks such as PROFINET or Ethernet IP. The easy to use SmartCamera is ideally designed for this trend and stands out with its intelligent data management capability.
The inspection results can be flexibly visualized either directly on a status display like the Balluff SmartLight or output using individual switching outputs and through a process interface like PROFINET or TCP/IP.

The new Balluff SmartCamera can execute a variety of sophisticated inspection programs

With the SmartCamera the user is given a highly flexible tool

Control via network

The SmartCamera has another feature which makes it predestined for meeting the new challenges of Industry 4.0: it can be fully controlled over a TCP/IP or PROFINET network. The user can for example select the inspection program centrally – from a PC or PLC – and set process parameters such as the time stamp and inspection sequence number or call up diagnostics data. In addition, inspection-specific data can be sent in various formats to the SmartCamera as they are needed for example in the test program as a reference, nominal value or other tool parameters. Freely selectable test results are sent to the controller in the form of a so-called result container after each inspection cycle. Simple commands are all that are needed to start, stop and trigger an inspection. The status, e.g. inspection active, waiting for trigger signal, trigger overrun, system error, status of data bus synchronization, is provided cyclically.

Reports in XML format

Storing complete inspection reports on an FTP server in XML format together with the recorded image(s) is another interesting feature. The operator himself defines which reports and images he wants to store depending on the inspection result.
He can not only track all inspections with their results, but also receive a gapless quality confirmation. In addition, the integrated IO-Link master interface can be used to other system data from IO-Link devices and process them directly in the SmartCamera or send to the controller. For system operators the process network (PROFINET) is of key importance. When there are faults or bottlenecks, this has a direct effect on the entire production process. This can cause problems especially in large network installations with many devices and large quantities of data.
This pertains for example to process data, i.e. analog and digital values which are obtained from a technical process using sensors. In robotics applications these are for example individual positions, in other cases only a recognized object type or sometimes just an OK signal.

Format selection for images

With the SmartCamera the user is given a highly flexible tool. He alone can decide which data are sent to the SmartCamera in which format or to the controller after each inspection. He also determines over which networks the data should be sent.

The SmartCamera is equipped with a Gigabit Ethernet and a 100 Mbit PROFINET interface
The systems planner assumes an important role here, because he determines the amount of parameters or data can be sent to and from the SmartCamera. For example, he can define that the results container for an identification task consists of just one 15-character barcode in string format and two position values (x and y) in real format. Other unneeded data are then not sent at all. He must also take into account the amount of data generated: Whereas normal process data are only minimal, the image and report data for the quality verification which are generated after each inspection cycle generally exceed the MB range.

Two bus interfaces

But the Balluff SmartCamera is well equipped for this. In contrast to devices from other manufacturers, which generally are compatible with only one bus interface, the SmartCamera is equipped with a Gigabit Ethernet and a 100 Mbit PROFINET interface. This offers a critical advantage: All it takes is a mouse click in the device settings and large report and image data are automatically passed through the fast interface to a storage server without putting the load on the PROFINET network. Of course, it is still always possible to send the data as usual over the standard PROFINET interface.

Author: Rainer Schönhaar, Product Manager for Image Processing at Balluff GmbH

Unbeatable Goalie Machine

Can Neymar and Messi score against RoboKeeper?

Is there any goalkeeper who even footballers of the World Cup class like Neymar and Messi fail against? Yes, there is one, and its name is RoboKeeper. The computer-controlled football robot was developed by the Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics (IML). A modified industrial PC of the Kontron KBox series serves as the hardware basis.
Like a tabletop football game figurine, the RoboKeeper consists of a goalkeeper mannequin which can be rotated to the left or right by an axis attached to the feet and thus jumps for the left or right goalpost. Two cameras mounted above the goal provide pictures of the game scene. The Kontron KBox A-103 generates a three-dimensional image of the goal area from the pictures taken in real time. The cameras record the ball at over 85 frames per second. From this data, the Kontron industrial computer calculates the ball position and determines the speed and direction of the ball. As soon as a player kicks the ball towards the goal, the computer calculates the point at which the ball will cross the goal line and controls the actuators within fractions of a second, to bring the goalie dummy onto the ball's path at up to 50 km/h. RoboKeeper reliably blocks penalty shots at up to 100 km/h speed. Even balls that swerve, bounce or rebound off the sides cannot deceive the electronic goalkeeper.

Mobile entertainment device

The RoboKeeper is now used commercially by 4attention Sports Marketing & Event Team worldwide for entertainment purposes. The robot system is robust, insensitive to transport and vibrations, and easy to assemble. For safety reasons, a programmable logic controller (PLC) acts as a kill switch and stops the robot in its tracks as soon as a light barrier in front of the device is interrupted. This prevents a player in the goal area from being hit by the goalkeeper mannequin and possibly being injured.

Tough mechanical and industrial PC requirements

The goalkeeper mannequin in lightweight construction must be robust enough to withstand the various shots. Sharp edges are taboo as they represent a safety risk. The solution was a PU foam body reinforced with an aluminium profile and a back. Despite its low weight of only 4.3 kg, it can withstand several thousand shots.
The motor has to move the goalkeeper mannequin precisely and must not overheat even after prolonged operation. A clutchless special motor for applications in high-tech mechanical engineering and the aerospace industry met the requirements.

Lightning-fast industrial PC required

RoboKeeper needs an extremely fast system. In just 0.4 seconds, the ball reaches the goal at a shooting speed of 100 km/h. Up to 0.3 seconds is required to hit the ball, although RoboKeeper accelerates 17 times faster than a Formula 1 race car. All calculations must be done within one tenth of a second. During this time, the trajectory and goalkeeper position must be recorded and the motor controlled. The industrial PC requires two Gigabit interfaces for the almost immediate transfer of camera images. A quad-core architecture enables parallel image processing.
For mobile event operation, additional requirements are placed on the industrial PC: compact design, insensitive to vibrations and no moving parts such as fans or rotating mass storage devices.
In addition, no socketed elements should be used, as these could become detached. EMC resistance is also mandatory.

The solution – a modified Kontron KBox A-103

The Kontron KBox A-103, which was modified by Kontron partner EMCOMO Solutions AG – a system integrator and value-added reseller for boards and systems based in Neu-Ulm – meets all these requirements. EMCOMO modified the Kontron KBox A-103 with a CF card reader with SATA connection and a third Ethernet interface to meet the special requirements of the RoboKeeper in event operation. In addition, a CAN controller (Mini-PCIe) was integrated as a fieldbus interface.

The KBox A-103 allows for easy system integration and programming
The pictures generated by the two cameras are each transmitted to the KBox A-103 via a special Gigabit Ethernet port and the GigE Vision standard. The pictures are used to calculate the ball’s trajectory in symmetrical multiprocessing on one processor core each within no more than 90 ms. It does not take longer than another 2 ms to determine the necessary angle of the goalkeeper dummy.

KBox A-103 at a glance

The maintenance free embedded Box PC is equipped with the Intel AtomTM processors up to Intel® Quad CoreTM E3845 and a wide range of functions and interfaces. The KBox A-103 is ready for the Internet of Things (IoT) using the WIFI, GPRS or LTE options via the miniPCIe interface. It is based on a modular approach that ensures simple upgrades to the next processor generation (“Forever Young”) for changing performance requirements. The maintenance-free design minimizes the total cost of ownership (TCO) while ensuring utmost availability.
Various mounting options including desktop, wall-mount, booksize, VESA-mounting or DIN RAIL guarantee high flexibility. The KBox A-103 supports a 24V DC input and can be operated in an extended temperature range from -20 °C to +60 °C. ds

IO-Link master modules in the IP20 and IP67 degree of protection

IO-Link is considered key technology for implementing industry 4.0 and IIoT concepts. For this technology Weidmüller provides IO-Link master modules in IP20 and IP67 degree of protection. Plug-in connectors and pre-assembled cables for the bus connection as well as sensor/actuator cabling complete the product portfolio. The parametrisation and configuration of IO-Link devices can be performed with a web‑based configuration tool that contains an interface to the manufacturer‑independent IODDfinder database.

IO-Link master module in IP20 degree of protection as well as connected sensors and actuators. The master module provides an increased power supply of 500 mA per channel
Until now, the challenge of machinery and plant engineering has always been to significantly shorten the time-consuming assembly, commissioning and maintenance phases. In these phases individual components – sensors and actuators – are connected electrically, subsequently adjusted and parametrised or exchanged if necessary. Using the IO-Link communication system to connect intelligent sensors and actuators to the controller significantly reduces the amount of time required. Sensors can be connected quickly and without any errors using a pre-assembled cable, for example, while automated commissioning is also made possible by means of downloading parameter sets. Another advantage is IO‑Link’s complete transparency right down to the sensor/actuator level, which convincingly supports plant availability. IO-Link enables precision diagnosis and simplified device replacement, which considerably reduces downtime and hence maintenance costs. Weidmüller is also providing comprehensive support for the advantages of IO-Link with u-remote, the flexible I/O system for streamlined planning and accelerated commissioning. Whether used as a control cabinet system, in mixed applications in the IP20 and IP67 degrees of protection or placed directly in the field for signal connection purposes, u-remote provides the user with all the freedoms of a flexible I/O architecture and offers the advantages of a consistent overall system. The u-remote integrated configuration tool enables convenient parametrisation and configuration, independently of the implemented fieldbus/network protocol.

The Software tool u-remote IO-Link configurator can be used to integrate, parametrise or configure IO-Link devices on the Web very easily

IO-Link at a glance

An IO-Link system is a standardised IO technology (IEC 61131-9) for communication with sensors and actuators. The system consists of the IO-Link Master and one or more IO-Link device, i.e. sensors or actuators. The IO-Link Master is the interface to the higher-level controller and controls communication among the connected IO-Link devices.
For every IO-Link, Weidmüller provides a master module in IP20 and IP67 degrees of protection. Parametrisation or configuration of the IP20 Master and the connected devices is performed very conveniently using the IO-Link web-based configurator. Compared with commercially available IP20 master modules, the Weidmüller master module provides increased power supply, with 500 mA per IO channel (type A) available instead of 200 mA, which is an increase of 150 %.
The IO-Link modules in the IP67 degree of protection can be directly installed locally in the field and forms the communication interface to the sensors and actuators. The IO-Link master module is 30 mm wide and also has four type A and four type B ports. It also has improved parameterisation and diagnostic properties for the connected sensors and actuators. For the first time ever, its type B ports enable the connection of actuators of up to 2 A. Furthermore, each and every port can also be configured as an input or output.

The 30 mm wide IO-Link Master module houses both type A and type B ports

u-remote enables up to
16 A feed-in current

With u-remote in IP67, users can increase the feed-in to the I/O system to 16 A. This means that a larger number of consumers can be connected in a line, thus considerably reducing the wiring required.
u-remote IP67 modules with their M12-L-coded plugs therefore provide more power to the system.
The u-remote IO link module in IP 20 and the connected IO-Link devices can be integrated, parametrised or configured very conveniently using the configuration tool on the web. Weidmüller software is additionally equipped with an intuitively operable user interface. Configuration is performed independently of the network. The engineering tool used and the type of fieldbus implemented also play a role. Upload of the IO-Link configuration files is performed directly by the fieldbus coupler on to the IO-Link Master and in turn, from there on to IO-Link devices. With the high-performance configuration tool, project files can be archived, distributed and modified locally.

With u-remote in IP67, users can increase the supply to the I/O system to 16 A. This means that a larger number of consumers can be connected in one line and thus significantly reduces the wiring effort. u-remote IP67 modules bring more energy into the system with their M12-L-coded plug connectors

IO-Link modules in the IP20 degree of protection for considerably improved parameterisation and diagnosis of the connected sensors and actuators

Powerful configuration software

The configuration software provides an interface to the cross-manufacturer central IO-Link database and the “IODDfinder”. In such a way, users discover a convenient overview of available IO-Link devices and their description files, the IODDs. The joint data source for IODDs provides high quality and consistency beyond that.
The u-remote IO-Link configurator is available as a free download on the Weidmüller homepage. For all series machines which use a recurring IO-Link configuration, the single project engineering configuration file can be stored locally and be redistributed from there to other plants. This can be accessed and adapted later where necessary.
The u-remote web server allows on-site or remote verification, such as diagnosis by remote access or input simulation, as well as forcing the outputs on-site. For this a standard browser only is needed. Processes and procedures can also be simulated without a controller being connected. In addition to the simplified start-up in sections, this also speeds up service in the event of unplanned system downtime. ds

Hybrid connector with 324° rotating area

Due to the permanently increasing cost pressure and the miniaturization of the end devices, in connection with an increasing data volume and high transmission speeds, new solutions for more efficiency in the field of cabling are required. For this reason, CONEC developed the Hybrid Connectors series B40 and B23 with angled receptacles offering a rotating aera.

With conventional cabling of electric motors, servo drives or linear units and drives, the cabling effort is very high. While in the conventional approach each individual motor is wired separately and elaborately to the control cabinet, many users are linked via a "daisy chain" with uniform connecting cables in the decentralized approach.
With the single-cable technology of the CONEC hybrid series, power supply and data transmission are combined and transmitted via a specially developed hybrid cable.
CONEC adds the new hybrid series B40 to the existing sizes B12, B17 and B23. In the B23 series, angled receptacles offering a rotating area of 324° are available for the first time. The already existing square socket design is supplemented by three further design variants for front or rear panel mounting. While the number of poles and the permitted rated voltages vary according to size, the 360° shielded data core is always the same and designed for Industrial Ethernet Cat 5 with stranded wire cross section AWG22.
Locking is ensured with a bayonet quick-release fastener and thus a time-consuming screw connection using a torque wrench is no longer necessary. By a quarter turn, a safe connection with IP67 protection is achieved. ds

Components for automation technology from Panasonic

Panasonic Industry is well known for its extensive automation technology portfolio with industry-leading innovations and components. With this article, WA3000 Industrial Automation reports about Panasonic's core competencies in the areas of safety technology, energy management and efficiency.
“As a partner for industry, we focus our attention on the value creation chain, safety and industrial communication for Industry 4.0. As a partner for smart, safe and digital automation, we offer customers tailored consultancy and service portfolios in addition to a wide range of innovative products,” says Johannes Spatz, President of Panasonic Industry Europe. Together with other product demonstrations, Panasonic Industry showcased its expertise at the sps ipc drives in safety and smart solutions – both key issues in the modern manufacturing and process industry to address the increasing complexity of manufacturing processes.

IO-Link sensors from Panasonic have an integrated self-diagnosis function

Sensors – IO-Link, data transmission with added value

With the laser measurement sensors of the HG-C1000L series, the pressure sensors of the DP-100L series, and the fiber sensor amplifier FX-550L, Panasonicoffers a wide range of IO-Link capable sensors, which can be used to realize applications for Industry 4.0. The automation industry is undergoing changes – machines are becoming more and more complex, start communicating with each other, monitor their own operation status and are able to recognize errors at an early stage. This is only possible by processing and evaluating data. Sensors are also considered the sensory organs of machines. They recognize components, measure pressure, length, and size and generate data all the time. Now it is possible to feed the data easily into the machine network with the help of the universal IO-Link standard and an interface. Thanks to the bidirectional data transfer via IO-Link, it is possible to set or read out sensor parameters with a decentralized system. One of the main advantages of IO-Link is that parameters can be copied across to a new sensor when a device has to be replaced. This eliminates the risk of errors caused by users setting the sensor parameters manually. The data can be used specifically to minimize standstill times because problems on the sensor level are detected well in advance. In addition, the search for error causes is made much simpler as many data are known beforehand.
All IO-Link sensors from Panasonic have an integrated self-diagnosis function. This feature monitors the function parameters specific to the sensor type and automatically outputs a warning signal if deviations from the specified behavior occur. Users save time because for maintenance it is sufficient to monitor only one signal instead of a number of sensor parameters.


SF4D – seamless maintenance and parametrisation for point of operation guarding

Unguarded, moving parts represent a hazard at the man-machine interface in the area of mechanical and hydraulic presses, compression moulding machinery, punching, forming, rivet and eyelet systems as well as other automechanical assembly systems. Safety light curtains offer a vital protection mechanism in this respect and their proper operation and regular maintenance is invaluable. Thanks to our own free software developed in-house, light curtains in the SF4D series can check for incorrect cable wiring, disconnection and short circuit as well as the reliability of internal circuits. What’s more, the ELCA function allows unwanted machine downtime owing to extraneous light to be prevented and calibrated accordingly. The customary M12 connector found on the market guarantees fast and uncomplicated installation.

Safety light curtain SF4D

The safety light curtain simplifies setup during commissioning with LED displays

HG-C series – extremely compact and reliable distance sensor

The HG-C series from Panasonic Industry opens up a host of new opportunities for industrial automation, including positioning of robotic arms, thickness and position measurement of belt material, presence detection of the smallest products or recognition of overlaps in the thinnest materials.
These measurements can be performed both statically and dynamically. The KG-C sensor is unique on the market for laser sensors thanks to a repeatability of 10 μm and a response time of 1.5 ms.
With dimensions of just W20 x H44 x D25 mm, this sensor offers high-end performance in a compact package. Five measuring ranges (100 mm ± 35 mm, 50 mm ± 15 mm and 30 mm ± 5 mm) are available depending on the model with a measurement resolution of 10 μm to 70 μm. The built-in display supports setup and operation.

The laser sensor is as compact as an optoelectronic sensor and immediately displays the measured distances with the accuracy of a distance sensor

HG-C series

DP-100 series – highly accurate miniature manometer with M8 connector type

The digital miniature manometers in the DP-100 series are ideal for highly accurate measurement and monitoring of air pressure and non-corrosive gases in an array of industrial applications. Special features of the digital manometer include the dual LCD display for measured values and threshold values and the data copy function. Not only can the displayed measured values or settings be read easily with the new three-colour, 12-segment LCD display, rather also the operating status (green or red for signal output ON/OFF operation) and setting status (orange) can also be easily distinguished. The data copy function allows the setting to be made on a sensor and transmitted with ease to other sensors. The adjustable response times (2.5 - 5,000 ms) mean that dynamic pressure changes can be recorded but also that undesired, abrupt pressure fluctuations owing to abnormal drops in pressure can be ignored.

The DP100 series, with its three-colour 12-segment LCD display, also enables a clear distinction to be made between the operating state and the setting state

DP-100 series

FX-500 series – the safest solution in the field of fibre optic sensors

Fibre optic sensors allow measurements to be taken in environments that are beyond the limits of electric sensors. Unlike electrical measuring methods, the strictly optical measuring method is completely immune to environmental influences, since light is the basis for supplying the sensor and transmitting the measurement signal. These sensors are also small, largely corrosion-resistant and extremely reliable against high electric voltages and magnetic fields as well as temperatures. The self-monitoring sensor from Panasonic Industry is able to report sensor data and its own status to the host device via an IO-Link master, enabling timely analysis and maintenance of the sensor as well as identification of problems. Not only are aspects such as maintenance and safety of paramount importance in this respect but also technical performance. The FX-500 achieves a response time of 25 µs and at the same time offers extremely high precision. Moreover, the reliability of detection has increased by 75 percent compared with earlier models.

With the FX-500 series, applications can be realized that were not possible before

FX-500 series

FP0H is eight times faster than conventional types and requires only 10 ns per basic command – up to 10k steps

FP0H compact controller – ultra-compact PLC with two Ethernet interfaces

The FP0H from Panasonic Industry is a compact controller, which rounds off the comprehensive PLC portfolio optimally by shifting the focus towards communication and connectivity. Thanks to two Ethernet interfaces, which serve as switches, data can now be shared via Ethernet. The CPU is able to communicate with different types of devices simultaneously, with support offered for the following protocols: Ethernet/IP, Modbus TCP, MEWWTOCOL and MC protocol. FTP client and server functions are likewise available.
This high-speed Ethernet bus for automation is especially suitable for highly dynamic single and multiple-axis positioning tasks. Assembly and connection are conceivably simple, while high fail-safe reliability is assured thanks to a ring circuit. Wiring is realised simply on the basis of Ethernet CST5e standard cables with a distance of up to 100 metres between the modules.

FP0H compact controller

MINAS A6 servo drives – minimum space requirement and costs paired with maximum safety

The space-saving MINAS A6 SX series servo drives meet the requirements of the EN 61800-5-2 standard and ensure maximum safety for operators, machines and tools
Safe drive monitoring has been a mandatory requirement for companies since the introduction of the European Machinery Directive in 2009. This means that drives therefore have to be able to perform more and more of the safety-related functions. However, these functions cannot be handled by conventional safety controllers. What’s more, machine safety to date has been associated with high costs and increased space requirements.
Panasonic Industry is addressing such design criteria with the MINAS A6 servo drive. The servo drive includes a total of 17 safety functions and nine safe inputs and outputs. This makes Panasonic the only provider to offer practically all safety functions.

MINAS A6 servo drives

Saving time and resources with Panasonic's new Servo Drive Product Finder

Thanks to the product finder, the right drive is quickly found even for large servo motor series
Panasonic presents a new tool to make it much easier for planners and users to find the right servo drive. Finding the right servo motor for a specific servo drive application can be like searching for a needle in a haystack. Compared to other search tools, Panasonic’s Product Finder helps you find not only the right servo motor, but also a complete servo drive solution with servo motor, servo driver, and all accessories.
Thanks to comprehensive filters it is easy to make a selection – users can filter according to output, rotational speed, encoder type, torque, and other criteria. A few mouse clicks help to narrow down the selection of suitable servo drives and then select one or more products according to more specific details. At the end, users can create a PDF file containing the technical data of the motor and all part numbers of the selected servo drive solution.
As one of the world's largest manufacturers of servo drives, Panasonic attaches particular importance not only to offering high-quality products, but also to ensuring that the associated service meets the high-quality requirements. ds

Smart optimization rather than investment

Numerous companies are sceptical, hesitating to take the step to digitalization. As an industry pioneer in the area of I4.0 grippers and real-time simulation, Zimmer Group is ready to convert the few remaining doubters and naysayers. The company now offers their customers integrated solutions (“digitalZ”) that are tailored to the software platforms of the customers.
The simulation solution “virtualZ” makes work smooth even when time windows are narrow, since any and all project phases can be repeatedly realistically simulated and optimized in advance. When this solution is used, the application possibilities do not end at commissioning. The "virtual twin" can manufacture in parallel or with a time delay relative to the physical machine/system in virtual space and offer functions that were inconceivable just a few years ago. The virtual machine can anticipate optimizations and validate them by running tests in the virtual world. It can confirm wear and provided information about the causes through comparison data. It uses resilient data to simulate upgrades under real-world conditions, laying the foundation for assessing retrofitting plans realistically.

Full-service solution for everything cloud-related

Zimmer Group offers a full-service solution in the area of the cloud – the “cloudZ”. It is based on a standard IO-Link component combined with an OPC UA server that runs as a utility program on a PLC. Vertical communication from components to the cloud and from the cloud to components is possible thanks to multiple leading cloud providers. This makes it possible to read out product IDs and serial numbers clearly and conveniently, visualize status and process parameters from a central control point in real time and even optimize components in the individual application. Irrespective of the brand of robot being used, “controlZ” allows the robot application (including the End-of-Arm Tools) to be created and put into operation using neutral programming tools such as Drag&Bot.

Simplified component installation in robot controller

By providing “visualZ”, Zimmer Group is offering its own specialized, convenient and user-friendly HMI user interface for mechatronic components and cells in order to simplify the process of installing components in the robot control system or in complex systems. “supportZ” builds upon deeper implementation of the software and global networking of components, enabling service modules to be made available to each customer. This provides the customers with speedy and stress-free implementation and commissioning in virtually all major PLC systems worldwide and gives customers access to support for their projects in the form of guidance and resources.

Author: Marcel Pfeiffer,
Head of Design & Brand at Zimmer GmbH

Find out more now!

Turck's extended portfolio now provides customers with ultrasonic sensors for virtually every application

Extended Ultrasonic Sensor Portfolio

The more compact the machine and plants, the greater the demand for small sensors. If these devices also involve short blind zones, they soon become the universal tool for restricted spaces. Turck has therefore added ten more miniature sensors to its RU ultrasonic sensor series. Twelve new types were added to the RU-Eco series with devices made from highly resistant liquid crystal polymer. This comprehensive portfolio enables the automation specialist to offer the right ultrasonic solution for virtually every application.

Operating principle

Ultrasonic sensors primarily operate using the time of flight measuring principle. The sensor emits a sonic pulse and receives the sound reflected back by objects. The time of flight between the emitted pulse and the received pulse enables ultrasonic sensors to be used not only for the discrete detection of objects, but also for measuring distances and for the output of an analog signal if required.
Ultrasonic sensors are the optimum solution for many applications where space is restricted and in which sensors are used for distance measurement or similar metrics, as they offer here several benefits compared to other solutions. An optical sensor is subject to dirt so that the user has to regularly clean it. Ultrasonic sensors on the other hand are insensitive to dirt, dust and even water. They always offer reliable operation. Ultrasonic sensors also detect every object, irrespective of the structure and color of its surface – another critical benefit compared to optical sensors.
However, ultrasonic sensors are not only superior in many respects to optical sensors. Unlike inductive sensors, which only detect metals, ultrasonic sensors can detect any medium.
This also applies to plastic, which makes them also one step ahead of capacitive sensors. Capacitive sensors are also several times more susceptible to dirt than ultrasonic sensors.

Ultrasonic sensors from Turck - robust, compact, self-cleaning

Turck's ultrasonic sensors have all these features – and more. Their highly robust housing with a continuous threaded barrel entirely made of metal is particularly short and stands out on account of a metal connector which is manufactured as one piece with the threaded sleeve. This eliminates any potential weak points that could cause damage in harsh environments and at low temperatures. The thread runs over the entire length of the sensor so that the mounting position can be varied as required within the mounting bracket. The connector can also not break off since it is made entirely of metal. Turck ultrasonic sensors also have a smooth sonic transducer front, which reliably prevents contamination and the formation of particle deposits. The mechanical movement of the membrane even shakes off deposits and is thus virtually self-cleaning.

Large range – short blind zone:
The Turck ultrasonic sensors can also be used effectively in restricted mounting spaces
Video: RU50 – Rugged ultrasonic sensor for improving switching and measuring applications

The Eco series in robust plastic housings is optimally suited for the price sensitive OEM business
Particle deposits that can occur when the air humidity is high can likewise be simply wiped off completely, without any residue remaining in the transition area between the transducer layer and the transducer ring. Damage arising from sharp and pointed cleaning objects therefore becomes a thing of the past. Turck's ultrasonic sensors are developed so that typical industrial noise has no effect on sensor operation. Neither whistling noises from compressed nor the noise of metal objects hitting each other prevent the RU ultrasonic sensors in their work.

Easy Teach Function

In order for the user to set the sensors simply and intuitively without a PC, all ultrasonic sensors of the RU series can be set with a simple teach-in function. The start of switch and measuring ranges can thus be set easily without the use of any external software. The teach operation is carried out via the teach adapter or via sensor variants with integrated pushbuttons.

The new sensors in M8 and M12 designs

The RU10U-M8 ultrasonic sensors are available in four variants: as a diffuse mode or opposed mode sensors each in PNP or NPN versions. The sensors have a range of 100 mm and a short blind zone of 20 mm.

The miniature sensors in M8 and M12 housings are made from a single unit and offer impressive performance with short blind zones
Turck is offering the RU20U-M12 and RU40U-M12 ultrasonic sensors with a 12 mm diameter in six variants: Four types come with an analog output and two variants with a switching output. The sensors with a switching output also come with integrated IO-Link functionality.
The customer has the choice between sensors with a 200 or 400 mm range; in both cases the blind zones are small and are just 20 or 40 mm.
Author: Markus Bregulla is
director product Management
for optical and ultrasonic sensors at Turck

Enterprise Linux versus Embedded Linux

Linux is one of the most widely used open source operating systems and is available in many different variants. This wide set of choices can make it confusing and challenging to determine the right version for a given use case. Wind River's article offers an introduction to Linux for the enterprise and Linux for embedded products.
The overall Linux landscape can be broken into two device target segments: enterprise and embedded. The boundaries between Information Technology (IT) and Operational Technology (OT) are becoming increasingly blurred. One of the benefits of the Linux ecosystem is that one size does not have to fit all, as there are many options to customize a system for a particular market.


Often when people think of Linux operating systems, they are considering the enterprise Linux offerings from Red Hat, Ubuntu, and others. The operating system vendor handles the design and compilation of the operating system environment. The user is limited to selecting a configuration or edition, installing additional software packages, and handling the administrative configuration of individual items. Everything is expected to be used in a purely binary environment by IT staff and general users. Distributors often include long-term support with the caveat that they only support certain common components, such as unmodified software and common usage considered typical for the platform targeted toward use cases with relatively shorter product lifecycles, such as three to five years. There are special purpose enterprise systems designed to run general purpose components. Both Project Atomic and Ubuntu Core use a small subset of the standard components from their base enterprise operating systems. These base components provide just enough of an environment for an IT administrator to deploy other special purpose software packages or containers. Often these containers are designed around providing unique services for system users. While the core environment is special purpose, the ability to extend the system using containers provides a general purpose behavior.

Hybrid of Enterprise and Embedded Linux

Somewhere on the spectrum between enterprise and embedded Linux sits roll-your-own, or customized enterprise distributions. These distributions are still a fairly common way to build a special purpose enterprise or embedded Linux system. Often they are based on a fork of a community-developed distribution. This gives users the mistaken impression that there is a community they can ask for help, when in reality the creator of this custom fork cannot rely on the initial community-created distribution it was derived from.

Overview Wind River Linux
This is mainly because the community had no involvement in the creation, customization, or use of this specific fork of the community distribution. Initially, this support burden can be satisfied by a dedicated expert who can manage the small number of required updates and defect fixes that are part of providing up-to-date distributions. Over time, however, the level of customization and the number of different versions will grow to a point of complexity that will require a significant team of experts to provide maintenance and support, driving increased costs. Since everything is custom, there is little to no benefit from economy of scale to help support this type of system.

Embedded Linux

Embedded Linux systems power devices people come in contact with on a daily basis but do not typically associate with Linux or Unix. From television sets to smart appliances to routers and cell phones, embedded systems support a wide range of hardware devices for many specialized purposes. There are many well-known embedded Linux systems available to developers. Buildroot is one example. Designed as a simple way for people to develop embedded systems, Buildroot uses existing technologies familiar to most Linux developers, such as kconfig and make, to produce a cross-compiled operating system. In order to keep it simple, the default environment is minimalistic and easy to understand. To build large projects, developers generally have to fork and modify the system. Many of the maintenance problems of a roll-your-own approach are then introduced, as the community is unable to help resolve issues specific to modifications. Buildroot is often used for the simple systems developed for hardware validation. However, it can also be used on more complex projects such as OpenWRT, which is popular on wireless access points.
Another embedded Linux system is known as both OpenEmbedded and the Yocto Project, as they share a common software core. In reality, OpenEmbedded represents the general open source community, whereas the Yocto Project represents related content, such as training materials and marketing content. Both communities work together, with all of the software components being developed within the OpenEmbedded project. The OpenEmbedded project and Yocto Project use a build system that is designed such that only the extensions themselves require local support. This enables an ecosystem of both community and commercial vendors who can support all of the system’s common components.
The Yocto Project is a more robust system than projects such as Buildroot. As a result of this versatility, a potentially steeper learning curve may result, making initial adoption, at least, somewhat more difficult. This learning curve is mitigated by the Yocto Project’s advocacy, training materials, and documentation. In addition, the Yocto Project’s supported ecosystem is designed to fill in specific gaps that an end user may have.
The Yocto Project, due to its versatility and design, is in use across a large number of vertical markets that include devices with specifications and use cases perhaps better described as enterprise in nature.

Wind River Linux for Embedded Devices

Wind River® Linux is a Yocto Project Compatible open source baseline and is the embedded operating system of choice for IIoT software developers who want a combination of open source flexibility, commercial grade reliability, and support to help minimize the total cost of ownership. Wind River Linux delivers vital components for the productization and commercialization of any IoT device.
Within a VxWorks workload consolidation solution, a Wind River Linux VM can be established to run Linux applications, such as communications. ds

Push-pull connectors ‘Made in Germany’ for future-proof industrial applications

Yamaichi Electronics highlights three push-pull connectors for future-proof industrial applications. The three connectors are manufactured in Frankfurt/Oder.

The new connector: M12 Y-Circ M with space-saving internal push‑pull locking mechanism

Yamaichi Electronics offers an innovation with internal push-pull locking for M12 connectors.
The system only requires as much installation space as M12 connectors with screw locks.
However, the classic screw lock is still available. Moreover, M12 sockets can be completely integrated into the end device.

The industrial connector: Y-Con RJ45

Y-Con was developed for harsh industrial applications. Hence the new push-pull version is designed for IP protection class IP67/IP68/IP69K and is 100 % backwards-compatible with the long-established Y ConCover-40.
The system still offers the well-known shock and vibration resistance, which was already implemented into the predecessor product. Additionally, also cables with M12 (Y-Circ M) or metal push-pull connectors (Y Circ P) are available.

The better all-rounder:
Y-Circ P circular push-pull connector

The metal circular push-pull connector Y-Circ P with patented half-shell design is used, for example, in measuring and test equipment. With its robust push-pull locking mechanism fast and easy contacting and release is possible.

Connectors ‘Made in Germany’

Yamaichi Electronics has maintained a production site in Frankfurt (Oder), Germany, since 2006. As a result of its very positive development, production is now being expanded. This will bring with it numerous advantages for customers: short delivery distances, minimal lead times and the option of rapidly implementing individual customer requirements. ds

Components for mechatronics

Dynetics offers an extensive range of motion controller modules, worm gear motors, servo motor controllers, stepper motor drives and controllers – all suitable for complex mechatronic applications.

Controller module for complicated motion profiles

The Commander Controller Module CMD-4EX-CR is the optimal solution for customers who want to integrate a motion controller with the functionalities of the 4-axis FMAX stand-alone subsystem on their own PCB. The freely programmable multi-axis control considerably shortens development and product launch times.
Compared to the FMAX, the CMD-4EX-CR offers more functions. With only one module, the controller enables many solutions for the realization of complicated motion profiles up to four axes. Both rotating and linear brushless DC motors, stepper motors or positioning tables in any combination are supported.
The CMD module offers high data transfer rates via Ethernet. It also supports communication via USB 2.0, RS-485, I2C bus and SPI. The module has the following features: linear and circular interpolation in two to four axes such as the FMAX controller, 13 homing routines, on-the-fly adjustment of speed and position, absolute and incremental position, S-curve and trapezoidal motion profiles, linear interpolation (XYZU), arc/circle interpolation (any two axes), helix/tangential interpolation (XYZ), continuous contour (XYZ: 100 Move Buffer Size), encoder feedback, coordinated motion sequences (linear and circular), up to 40 digital outputs.
The stand-alone system can be operated in PC-based as well as in stand-alone mode and offers easy-to-use, cost-effective multi-axis motion programming. A BASIC-like programming language was developed by the manufacturer (C, C ++, VB,, Linux, Labview, Matlab support with examples). The manufacturer has put together a development kit with all necessary software.

Controller Module CMD-4EX-CR

A kit with board and software shortens the development time of multi-axis controllers

Compact worm geared motor

The low-noise B30 worm geared motor from Cogent Mechatronic has a strong rated torque of 235 Nm and a high efficiency.

The worm geared motors of the B30 series enable powerful drive solutions
The B30 is available in two versions ("in-line" and "parallel") and can be fitted with three different worm gear transmission rates: 600:1, 1200:1, 1800:1. The "in-line" version is able to drive two gears on both sides at the same time. The geared motor has a significantly higher efficiency than pure worm gears. The DC drive is available in 12 V and 24 V versions. The robust plastic housing made of impact-resistant thermoplastic resists axial loads of up to 300 kg. Customized versions including different helical pitches are possible.

Compact worm geared motor

Universal servo motor motion controller for industry 4.0

Motion controllers are critical components for optimal performance and an important part of the cost of an application. The TITAN-SVX-ETH belongs to the new generation of universal servomotor controllers.
The controller supports data communication via Ethernet, USB and RS485 and is suitable for efficient control of servo motors such as stepper motors, brushless motors (rotating or linear) and voice coil motors.
It has many advanced features, including automatic parameter monitoring, autotuning, force/torque monitoring and multithreaded programming capability. The TITAN software is intuitive and easy to use, allowing a drive system to be implemented quickly. The TITAN servo technology with the new ARCUS 5.0 standard is ready for new challenges in research and industry. This makes it possible to implement cost-effective solutions for Industry 4.0, Industrial IoT and analysis devices.

The universal motion controller for stepper motors, brushless motors (rotating or linear) and voice coil motors

New stepper motor drivers and controllers

Since 1988, the Italian based manufacturer S.H.S. has been developing and producing components and systems for motion control. S.H.S. offers a wide range of flexible, programmable and reliable stepper motor controllers that can operate all the 2-phase stepper motors available on the market. The stepper motor drivers have clock and direction inputs, support fieldbus systems and are mutually compatible and expandable.

Overview stepper motor drivers

All parameters of the HT3 stepper motor controller can be configured via the panel

HT3 stepper motor controller - intuitive diagnostics, low noise emission

The HT3 stepper motor controller is user-friendly and easy to integrate into applications. It is equipped with CanOpen, Modbus, SHS blue, USB interface, Bluetooth, six digital and two analogue inputs as well as three digital outputs. It also provides a range of monitoring features such as overcurrent, under / overvoltage protection, motor connection faults, overtemperature, fieldbus errors, stall detection errors and EEPROM errors.

HT5 stepper motor controller - user-friendly and easy to integrate

The UT5 is equipped with 7 digital and 2 analog inputs, 3 digital outputs, encoder feedback, USB interface, Bluetooth, STO function, separate electronic input, overcurrent, under / overvoltage protection, motor connection error, overtemperature, fieldbus error, EEPROM error, display of all important operating parameters such as operating temperature, input voltage, input frequency, status display of the digital and analog inputs and the fieldbus.

Stepper motor controller HT7 - comprehensive diagnostic information

The HT7 series is the most powerful stepper motor controller from SHS. The display can display important parameters such as operating temperature, input voltage, input frequency and the status of the digital and analog inputs as well as the fieldbus. Supported fieldbuses are e.g. CanOpen, EtherCAT, ProfiBus, PrifNET, ModBUS, Sercos, DeviceNET, PowerLINK, CCLink. The HT7 series is optimized for low-noise motor operation. It offers 8 digital inputs, 6 digital outputs, 2 analog inputs, storable programs and programmable logic functions. ds

These robots crawl into every nook and cranny

It started as a project by two engineers who were close to retirement. Today, the modular inspection robots by Canadian company Inuktun are successfully in use all over the world – defying even the most adverse conditions.
Inuktun's Multi-Mission Modular (IM3™) robot family just keeps growing. The latest addition is a small crawler robot that magnetically "sticks" to metal walls and is able to move in all directions. It carries cameras, sensors and tools for inspection or maintenance work in tight pipes and on the outer hulls of tanks or ships. The robot named MiniMag is able to operate both in air and under water. It can also be equipped with additional components from Inuktun or third-party manufacturers.

Where humans cannot reach

The Canadian company produces more than 100 camera and crawler systems per year, as well as components. The remotely operated vehicles (ROV) are successfully used all over the world for inspection and maintenance work. They can reach places that are inaccessible to humans due to space confinements or hazards. The systems are resistant to the harshest ambient conditions. They are often used for applications in the oil and gas, petrochemical, nuclear and mining industries. Inuktun's small inspection robots were also utilized after the 9/11 attacks in New York in 2001, and after the tsunami in Japan.
There are many more areas of application, but "we simply cannot talk about certain applications," says Priscilla Johnson who is responsible for marketing at Inuktun.
"Our team always looks forward to developing special solutions for new challenges. Especially in cases where several requirements are combined."

Modular system as success recipe

Back in 1989, Terry Knight and Al Robinson, the founders of Inuktun, probably didn't expect they'd be this successful. At the time – both of them close to retirement – they began designing small swimming ROVs. Today, more than 50 people work at the Inuktun headquarters in Nanaimo. The company has several sales companies and partners all over the world. And the market for industrial inspection robots is growing continually. But so are the requirements. Customers are increasingly demanding solutions that cover several fields of application.
That is why Inuktun makes use of modular technology. It allows customers to specifically configure the perfect robotic solution for their needs from a large selection of proven cameras, crawler elements and controllers. When requirements change, new components can be added to the system or it can be completely reconfigured. The company also offers a wide range of rental robots – with increasing success. Priscilla Johnson explains: "In some cases customers cannot afford to buy a robot system. Existing customers, on the other hand, may have a special application for which their equipment is insufficient. With a rental system they are able to close the gap."

maxon GP 22 C gearhead: The GP 22 C planetary gearhead with a diameter of 22 mm provides the necessary torque for the maxon DC motors. In addition, this version is reinforced with ceramic components.

maxon RE 35 motor: This drive delivers 90 W of power, at a diameter of 35 mm. It is equipped with graphite brushes and the special ironless maxon winding, and has no cogging torque.
The robotics specialist Inuktun uses components from Swiss drive specialist maxon motor. All crawler modules and cameras are equipped with brushed maxon DC motors, using various motor-gearhead combinations. "We prefer maxon drives because they are efficient and silent," says Johnson.
maxon products are regularly used in difficult conditions, for applications such as deep drilling, underwater robots or rocket launches. For its sophisticated robots, Inuktun needs precisely this kind of reliability and quality. All the more since, in future, these robots are to perform their tasks autonomously.
Author: Stefan Roschi

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