Trends and Products from Hannover Messe 2011

  • May 23, 2011
  • Feature
May 2011
By Bill Lydon, Editor
Hannover Fair provides a unique event to directly see a wide range of automation technology, its application on a wide range of equipment, and the opportunity to talk with users. The level of engineering and manufacturing knowhow and skill incorporated into products at the event is world class.
Hannover Fair 2011 was larger than any in the last 10 years with over 230,000 visitors. This represents growth of 10 to 15 percent over the comparable 2009 event. Hannover Fair 2010 was disrupted by the European volcano in 2010 that had major impact on attendance. Show management noted that one in every three visitors was a member of top management, marking a 20 percent increase in this category.  More about the 2011 Fair.
Industry & technology Trends
The size of Hannover Fair can be overwhelming but there were industry and technology trends reflected in products and presentations at the event. I am using some specific examples for illustration and in most cases there are many more companies that have products supporting these trends.
Mechanical & Electrical Integration
The integration of multiple functions into devices continues to increase with mechatronics becoming more commonplace.  There were products from a number of vendors that continue to integrate complete controllers into drives and servos.
A great demonstration of the integration pushing the design and implementation envelope was the FESTO SmartBird. FESTO developed the SmartBirds to learn from bionics. The birds were designed using a high degree of integration including power supply, control, motion control, motion feedback, diagnostic feedback, and wireless communications. The design pushes the envelope of what is possible and FESTO claims that while analyzing the SmartBird's flow characteristics during the course of its development, they have acquired additional knowledge for the optimization of its product solutions.
Festo SmartBird Youtube Video
The bionic SmartBirds, inspired by the herring gull, can start, fly and land autonomously. Consistent with the Hannover Fair themes, the SmartBirds are extremely lightweight for efficiency in resource and energy consumption.
Embedded Control
The greater integration of functions is driving the development of integrated controllers on a chip and enabling a higher degree of functionality to be embedded in end devices including sensors and actuators. The application of single chip processors incorporating Ethernet and/or CAN communications has become widespread with developers. In many cases, these platforms come complete with a real-time operating system that support, email, WEB servers, WEB services and other functions. These single chip platforms make it easy to create embedded industrial controllers. The result, over time, will be a more distributed system architecture where PLC and Process controllers will be less involved in control. These chip offerings should accelerate the embedding of more control functions into a range of automation devices including drives, pneumatics, hydraulics, vision, and robot controls.
EtherCAT -Texas Instruments
Texas Instruments announced that it is licensing EtherCAT for its ARM based embedded processors starting with the upcoming Sitara ARM microprocessors planned for the fourth quarter of 2011. Other processor platforms will incorporate EtherCAT beginning in 2012. The Texas Instruments Sitara ARM Microprocessor supports serial, CAN, USB, and 10/100 Mbit Ethernet communications, providing a platform for real-time control and communications on a single chip.
EtherCAT Component Progression
Other companies with offerings of chips that deliver protocols include:
  • HMS Anybus-IC family
  • Phoenix Contact PROFINET IO Device Chip
  • Siemens PROFINET ERTEC 200/400
Purposeful Device Communication
The industry has multiple open standard protocols so there seems to be a diversity of needs served by the various standards (Profibus, PROFINET, DeviceNet, EtherNet/IP, AS-i, etc.) These were all displayed at Hannover Fair.
 Evidence of this device communication is an industrial communication network for use in control panels developed by Eaton, called SmartWire-DT. At Hannover Fair, Phoenix Contact and Eaton announced a cooperation agreement where Eaton’s SmartWire-DT communications is incorporated into Phoenix Contact’s Contactron motor starter.   SmartWire-DT is an 8 wire communications network for use in control panels to reduce wiring and add diagnostic functions. The new "electronic" CONTACTRON contactor is a solid-state device for motors up to 4 kW that incorporates four functions (clockwise / counterclockwise / motor protection / emergency stop) integrated in a 22.5 mm wide solid-state reversing contactor.   Eaton has stated a desire to work with other qualified manufacturers that want to incorporate SmartWire-DT. More Information on SmartWire-DT
Engineering Software
The development of software that amplifies engineering time and knowledge is accelerating and may be the most important trend that helps enable the creation of more complex applications and increases the productivity of precious engineering resources. 
Siemens Perspective
Prof. Dr. Siegfried Russwurm, Member of the Managing Board of Siemens AG CEO Sector Industry, gave a presentation at Hannover Fair discussing these opportunities and what they mean to Siemens. He noted that through the use of software, product design and production planning will run in parallel in the future. The big paradigm shift is being accelerated with PLM software where real and digital worlds of manufacturing are converging.
Slide from Prof. Dr. Siegfried Russwurm, Member of the Managing Board of Siemens AG CEO Sector Industry Presentation
Siemens and others are leveraging simulation and modeling to do virtual prototypes which saves valuable development time and then generates real world controls with software. The Siemens Mechatronics Concept Designer software, for example, enables an entire development team to collaborate to design, simulate, and virtually build a complete machine including Mechatronics.  When the entire machine is virtually debugged, the software creates all the code to implement the design including the control application code in the PLCopen XML standard format for controllers.
More Information:
EPLAN demonstrated electrical design software that improves engineering, project efficiency, and systemizes knowledge. 
The product is designed for electrical people, who have not been trained as 3-D mechanical designers.  The software creates panel layouts, documentation, wiring diagrams, and other related items. At the Fair, a wiring robot linked to EPLAN was demonstrated that automates panel building.
Wiring Robot
OPC UA WEB Services
The OPC Foundation booth illustrated the unifying capabilities of the OPC UA standard to connect information from sensor to enterprise using WEB services. APAT, Indusoft, Kepware, MatrikonOPC, Prediktor, Siemens, SAP, Unified Automation, and CAS demonstrated OPC UA capabilities in the Hannover booth. These vendors demonstrated a range of OPC UA capabilities from embedded OPC UA to enterprise connectivity. OPC UA is being implemented in embedded field devices, process control systems, programmable logic controllers, gateways, operator panels. 
The computer industry has been integrating WEB services for some time now to unite data from various sources in an effort to improve operations and achieve more accurate decision support.  These integrations issues need to addressed and they exemplify why I believe OPC UA is quickly gaining momentum and collaborating with a number of organizations including PLCopen, ISA-95, ISA-88, MTConnect, Field Device Integration, EDDL, and FDT. The OPC Unified Architecture enables secure, reliable and vendor-neutral transport of raw data and pre-processed information from the manufacturing level into the enterprise.   This function is independent of the manufacturer from which the applications originate, the programming language in which they were developed or the operating system on which they are used.
OPC UA activity is accelerating. An OPC day event will be held in Waldorf Germany on May 25, 2011, hosted by SAP. There is also an active OPC group in China.
If you have feedback regarding major industry trends I would be pleased to get your thoughts and publish them.  (Use the "Feedback" link below.)

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