Trends and Products from Hannover Messe 2012

  • June 25, 2012
  • Feature
June 2012
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.   These are trends and products from Hannover 2012 that I think are worth noting.
2012 HERMES AWARD Honors Engineering
Germany’s Minister for Education and Research, Dr. Annette Schavan, presented the 2012 HERMES AWARD on April 22 at the HANNOVER MESSE opening ceremony to Phoenix Contact. Every year this technology prize is presented to a company which has developed an outstandingly innovative product. The HERMES AWARD also comes with a 100,000 euros prize and is based on one sole criterion - innovation. The product must either be an entirely new product or a significant further development of a product shown for the first time to the world at the Hannover Messe event. The award is named after an ancient Greek god, Hermes, the God of Science who could foresee the future.  Phoenix Contact was this year’s winner for the LM-S system which measures lightning surges and conveys operational status evaluations via the Internet to remote monitoring locations. Lightning strikes are responsible for most incidents involving damage to wind turbine rotor blades. The system is based on the electrical-optical Faraday Effect and measures the full course of the lightning surge as well as the impact on each of the individual rotor blades. The data is used to more effectively schedule preventative maintenance. The other companies nominated for the award were: ContiTech AG (Hannover, Germany), Festo AG (Esslingen, Germany), Linz Center of Mechatronics (Linz, Austria) and Pepperl + Fuchs (Mannheim, Germany).
Prof. Dr. Annette Schavan, Germanys Federal Minister of Education and Research announcing the 2012 HERMES AWARD at the opening ceremony of HANNOVER MESSE.
Industrial PC Power
PC-based control seems to be gaining momentum - it was being show by Beckhoff, B&R, Siemens, and Phoenix Contact on their own industrial PC hardware. These are powerful PCs available in standard and wide temperature ranges with processor options from Intel Atom to multicore Intel i7 configurations. Configurations include rack mounted, box, panel, and units with integrated flat touchscreens. Each of these vendors has software to deliver a complete IEC 61131-3 control solution supporting all popular industrial protocols with integrated HMI on these platforms.  In an interview, Phoenix Contact described how they have facilities in North America, Europe, and Asia to allow 5 day delivery of industrial PCs built to order, tested, and burned-in for 24 hours.
My Thoughts: The use of industrial PCs appears to be growing with the continuing integration of enterprise IT and automation.
Safety Alliance: The Open Platform for Safety Technology
The Safety Alliance provided a briefing on mission and targets of this new association at Hannover 2012 at the KW-Software booth. The targets of the Safety Alliance are joint marketing, further development and support of an open technology platform around KW-Software which is being used by a number of companies to meet IEC 61508 requirements. KW-Software is an independent company in the Phoenix Contact Group. KW-Software is providing independently certified technology components for companies to use in designing devices such as embedded PLC and safety controllers.   KW-Software states they have more than 20 active customers successfully using this technology including B&R Automation, Baumüller, Bombardier, KUKA Roboter, Lenze Drive Systems, Leuze electronic, and Phoenix Contact. This approach allows developers to create modern safety solutions using a modular architecture, based on open, independently certified and scalable components conforming to TUV and PLCopen safety standards. 
My Thoughts: Safety certification of software used in products is not a simple task and is a major investment to accomplish. These vendors using KW-Software are leveraging a common investment to achieve safety certified systems.   The addition of more members to the Safety Alliance will increase the investment leverage using this concept. The Safety Alliance lowers the investment requirements to build safety products by providing engineers a suite of software already safety certified.
Chip Solutions
Building embedding processing and industrial protocols into end devices is being supported by more integrated chip offerings. These offerings incorporate industrial protocols and processors on a single integrated chip making it easier for engineers to design smart field devices. For example, Texas Instruments is offering ARM processor chips that incorporate CAN and Ethernet interfaces along with EtherCAT, EtherNet/IP, POWERLINK, Profibus, PROFINET, and SERCOS drives. Suppliers include: Innovasic (, profichip GmbH (, Texas Instruments (, K-W Software (, Renesas Electronics (, Softing (, HMS Industrial Networks (, and Grid Connect (
My Thoughts: These integrated chips are key components to support a growing trend to put processing and industrial network interfaces into filed devices. 
SERCOS/ODVA Cooperation
Sercos International, ODVA, and the OPC Foundation at the 2012 Hannover Fair provided a progress report on their goal to have a joint network infrastructure in which the different network protocols can coexist and the devices of different manufacturers can be operated together reducing the complexity and costs of device integration in machines and systems.   Because the infrastructure required for EtherNet/IP and Sercos III includes the physical and data link layers of Ethernet, Sercos telegrams, CIP messages and TCP/IP messages can coexist within a network without requiring additional cables. To keep the cyclical and clocked communication of Sercos III intact, the CIP messages and TCP/IP messages are transmitted in the Unified Communication Channel (UCC). This channel sits directly on the Ethernet layer without tunneling, allowing the connection of users who do not have Sercos III, but instead support a different Ethernet-based protocol. The groups are also exploring how to enable standard reporting methods and tools to aid in the asset management of machines and the monitoring of their states. To solve this problem, a technical approach is being pursued for a protocol-neutral data model that standardizes the reporting language for basic information about a machine including its basic awareness attributes and states. Adapted to specific technologies – CIP, Sercos and OPC UA – this data model will provide the means to collect data from individual machines or to aggregate data from multiple machines at various levels of the enterprise and present this data consistently at all levels: from the machine to the process level, the system level and ultimately to the production and enterprise domains. 
My Thoughts: There has been a proliferation of industrial Ethernet protocols and this cooperation is interesting since it is focused on simplifying applications for people using EtherNet/IP and SERCOS.
SmartWire-DT – Another Industrial Network
In a joint press conference titled, “The Partnership of Experts,” Eaton, Phoenix Contact, and Wöhner GmbH & Co. KG presented their commitments to SmartWire-DT.   Craig McDonnell, Vice President of Marketing (EMEA) at Eaton commented, "With lean automation, local I/O modules can be dispensed with and thus a lean automation solution realized thanks to the distributed intelligence of SmartWire-DT together with our scalable HMI/PLC solutions."   SmartWire-DT is an 8 wire communications network for use in control panels to reduce wiring and add diagnostic functions. Devices are connected using an 8 conductor SmartWire-DT network cable that uses vampire connections. The vision is to provide an easy to use network for power control devices including contactors, overload relays, micro PLC’s, and HMIs. There are future plans to open up SmartWire-DT for safety applications with direct connections to devices such as contactors and push buttons. This is being pursued with approval agencies today.
My Thoughts: The introduction of another network for wiring in control cabinets is an interesting and surprising move. Recognizing this is a network optimized for control cabinets, there will be gateways between SmartWire-DT and other industrial networks. The big question - is there enough of an advantage to use this network in control cabinets over extending the plant industrial network into the cabinets?
The EtherCAT Technology Group displayed an EtherCAT network with a 12.5 μs cycle time in its booth at Hannover Messe 2012, showing the stability of the communications with an oscilloscope. The network features a master with a purely software-based solution loaded on a standard Industrial PC and 15 standard slave devices. The demonstration highlighted the fact that EtherCAT achieves this performance without specialized hardware for neither the master nor a new generation of slave chips while also transmitting any other Ethernet traffic such as TCP/IP.
My Thoughts: This was an impressive demonstration and a continuation in the ongoing performance arguments between the Industrial Ethernet standard groups. I am sure we will see more performance demonstrations of other Industrial Ethernet technologies.
It’s engineering stupid!
I am always impressed by the engineering and innovation of many products at Hannover Fair and it brings into focus the need for engineering thinking with a capital ‘E.’ Good engineers look at problems and find ways to do things better. In many large companies that have become businesses managed by non-technical people in top management, the engineers have been stifled.   A common response to a new clever idea is, “that is not our business.” I think this comes out of the MBA handbook to focus on making short term money rather than focusing on customers.   I don’t know the exact history but think about what might have been going on in meetings at Polaroid if an engineer had suggested making digital cameras. He was likely told that is not our business.
A great example of thinking about using technology to improve customer applications at Hannover this year was Beckhoff’s introduction of the XTS concept. The new XTS (eXtended Transport System)  drive system combines the advantages of rotary and linear systems eliminating complex wiring and drag chains. The motor is completely integrated together with power electronics and displacement measurement into the track. Multiple wireless movers can be independently controlled with high dynamics at up to 4 m/s on an almost arbitrary and flexible path.  More information.
I can image an engineer suggesting this solution at a large “business-managed” control company and told by management, "We only make controllers,"
Other Hannover 2012 articles:

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