Welcome to this Industry Update episode of the Automation World Gets Your Questions Answered podcast. I’m David Greenfield, editor in chief at Automation World. These Industry Updates are a new addition to this podcast series as a way to help keep our listeners updated on the latest goings on in the automation industry. We are still featuring interviews with industry experts each month. The Industry Update episodes are being posted in addition to our regular interview episodes.
For this Industry Update, I want to share some of the biggest news to come out of my visit to Pack Expo 2023 in Las Vegas.
Maybe the most surprising news is that Beckhoff is now manufacturing its own cameras and lighting for machine vision applications. These new industrial cameras, lenses and lighting are integrated with Beckhoff’s TwinCAT Vision software, which was introduced in 2017 to bring image processing directly into the machine control environment. Todd Jarvey, U.S. vision product manager at Beckhoff, said, “By integrating vision into the TwinCAT software, we eliminate latency between vision inspection results and the rest of the machine control. It also gives us the ability to configure the camera and the lights in real time during the inspection process to easily change the wavelength light of the illumination and trigger the camera with very tight synchronization to motion axes.”
Key components of Beckhoff’s new camera, lenses and lighting include:
- IP65 and 67 rated, EtherCAT-enabled area-scan cameras that feature Sony CMOS sensors with up to 24-megapixel resolution and GigE Vision transfer rates of 2.5 Gbit/s.
- The multicolor LED illumination products are also IP65 and 67 rated as well as EtherCAT-enabled and are available in panel, ring and bar configurations • And the Industrial C-mount lenses offer up to 2 μm resolution.
Jarvey noted that, with these new products, Beckhoff can now offer complete machine vision units consisting of a camera, illumination and electronically focusable liquid lenses.
It was also interesting at Pack Expo to see how Emerson has integrated the technologies from several recent acquisitions with its other automation technologies to develop its Floor to Cloud portfolio of technologies. The group of Emerson technologies in this portfolio include Aventics pneumatics, Branson power supplies, Movicon SCADA/HMI, and PACEdge and PACSystems controllers and software.
Mark Densley, Emerson’s director of business development for factory automation, demonstrated the open architecture of the Floor to Cloud system at Pack Expo by showing how multiple different sensors can be connected to collect, monitor and display plant floor data via the Movicon software in a dashboard. For example, the dashboard he showed depicted compressed air consumption enabling users to see trends related to connected production processes to determine if there are any consumption issues, such as a leakage. He also noted that, based on the wide collection of data enabled by Emerson’s Floor to Cloud system, users will have the data required to build a really accurate level of OEE calculations for a piece of equipment or the facility overall and the system can be used to track production activities around corporate sustainability goals.
Another interesting new technology introduction came from Weidmüller. Of course, Weidmüller is well known for its industrial connectivity and electronics technologies such as terminal blocks, connectors, cabling, I/O, controllers and power supplies. Now they’re expanding their reach into industry’s digital transformation with their release of u-OS, an open operating system designed to handle tasks such as device maintenance and application integration. Ken Crawford, senior director of automation at Weidmüller USA says, u-OS is designed to “ensure future resilience and ease of system migration by eliminating reliance on a single provider.”
Weidmüller emphasized the openness of u-OS via its design around open standards such as Linux, OPC-UA and Docker as well as its support for multiple fieldbus protocols. All of which are key to helping users avoid being locked-in to using specific vendor technology ecosystems in their operations.
At Pack Expo, Crawford explained that u-OS is meant to connect devices to the cloud for remote management. He noted that u-OS combines components for connectivity, such as MQTT, and containerization capabilities that enable Codesys and Node-Red to run on u-OS managed devices.
You can find more information and videos about these new introductions on our site at automationworld.com.
So thanks for checking out this Industry Update episode of the Automation World Gets Your Questions Answered podcast series. And remember to keep watching this space to stay on top of the latest news, trends and insights on the world of industrial automation.