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Rockwell Automation Heats Up Competition at Automation Fair

Rockwell’s new products up the ante for competition in safety and drives-related techologies.

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Hardly had Automation World editors emerged from a briefing at Bosch Rexroth Corp., in Hoffman Estates, Ill., when we headed to St. Louis and Rockwell Automation Inc.’s annual bash—Automation Fair.

Bosch Marketing Manager Joe Biondo had detailed his company’s motion safety initiative. This technology embeds safety in the motion control system, allowing operators to set up and trouble shoot motion applications without shutting power off to the machine.

Bosch may be first, but it is no longer the only supplier with this technology. Stating “safety equals productivity,” Rockwell Automation product managers at Automation Fair unveiled DriveGuard, for variable frequency drives, and GuardMotion, for Rockwell’s motion control product line. This likely signals the beginning of heated competition in yet another category, and shows how safety is becoming a mainstream technology.

In another drives-related product announcement, Milwaukee-based Rockwell showed its new medium voltage variable frequency drive. Medium voltage goes from roughly 2,000 to 6,000 volts AC, with 4,160 volts being a typical value. Designers looked at every section of drive construction, from input reactors through switching to output, and totally redesigned the drive. The new drive is a fraction of the size and cost of the old drives. This will no doubt put pressure on Rockwell’s competition, especially with Robicon’s recent acquisition by Siemens—a move that further concentrates the drives industry.

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