At every IMTS, manufacturers from around the globe announce new products and machinery for the machine-tool industry (and others that come to borrow the most adaptable technology). This year’s IMTS 2016 is no different.
The show continues for two more days yet, but this is my last day reporting from Chicago before heading out. Here are some of the coolest technologies from what I saw at McCormick Place this year.
Of course, the South Hall had no shortage of jaw-dropping mega-large robots and machinery …
Going for a ride in an autonomous van
But the automobiles weren’t just static stand-in workpieces. IMTS show organizers also let Local Motors offer rides in their Olli — the first self-driving electric vehicle equipped with IBM Watson Internet of Things (IoT) technology.
Built by Local Motors, Olli is taking a dozen riders at a time through the C Hall of the North Building. That’s a pretty good deal for attendees with barkin’ dogs after walking those hard concrete floors of McCormick all day.
Limited to about 5 mph for show purposes — but capable of 25 mph — Olli uses the cloud-based cognitive computing capability of IBM Watson to analyze and learn from high volumes data produced by more than 30 sensors embedded in the vehicle, including GPS and cameras — as well as Light Imaging, Detection, And Ranging or LIDAR.
Visit with Bosch Rexroth — to get information on new safety and linear and IoT offerings
I also got the chance to visit with Kevin Gingerich of Bosch Rexroth to chat about CKL actuators based on ironless linear motors with ball rails to get travel velocities to 5 m/sec. Without mechanical drive elements to wear, the actuator offers low-maintenance operation with central relubrication for the rails … as well as preconfigured lengths to 5,500 mm; acceleration to 150 m/sec; and positioning accuracy and repeatability.
Expect more from us shortly on the company’s safety and IoT developments.
Beckhoff booth visit for some augmented reality
At a visit with Shane Novacek at the Beckhoff booth, I also got the chance to see how the company’s engineers are expanding the idea of HMIs to include wearables … and even augmented reality through the use of glasses such as Microsoft HoloLens. The idea is that maintenance personnel and operators may soon be free to get instant visual alerts on what motors, drives, controls, and other machine parts are doing — or failing to do — by looking at them through reality-augmenting glasses.
Expect more on this from Design World in coming weeks.
According to Novacek, emerging tools for diagnostics tie into the idea of IoT by leveraging standard, off-the-shelf components that can also communicate an ever-increasing amount of information about machine processes and health.
Festo offerings for smart manufacturing
At my last stop of the day, I got the chance to visit with Festo at Booth E-5066 and see their own offerings for smart manufacturing.
The manufacturer’s aim is to simplify setup of pneumatic and electric motion systems. At IMTS 2016, Festo showed VUVS and VUBG pneumatic valves and a demonstration of flexible automation — in the form of a simulated engine-block assembly line. Here, a hybrid electric and pneumatic setup run off a Festo CPX platform maximized flexibility.
In addition, attendees got to interact with a new Handling Guide Online. Engineers come to the site with basic application information such as load, cycle time, load voltage, and workspace size — and in 20 or so minutes specify a single axis, 2D or 3D Cartesian robot … and even get a CAD drawing of the robot.
There were also Optimized Motion Series (OMS) linear and rotary electrical axes showing. According to company engineers, OMS setups lower OEM overhead by quickening specification and commissioning of axes.
“Festo provides a platform for planned data, communication, intelligence, and diagnostics … all of the requirements for future manufacturing, including the MTConnect standard and Industry 4.0 concepts for smart manufacturing,” said Frank Langro of Festo.
— Lisa Eitel (@DW_LisaEitel) September 14, 2016