Production often comes to a standstill until the error has finally been pinpointed – and that can take hours. The causes are legion; in many cases it is all due to a single interrupted contact.
Consequently, many manufacturers have long been hoping for a technology that will work without vulnerable power and data cables. The idea is basically feasible, using small devices that harvest energy from their surroundings and provide their own power supply rather like a solar calculator. Experts speak of energy self-sufficient sensor-actuator systems. These high-tech components normally consist of a sensor, a processor and a radio module.
They measure position, force or temperature and transmit the data instantaneously by radio. In this way, vital machine data reach the control center without using cables at all. Is the machine overheating? Is the drive shaft wearing out?
So far, however, there are hardly any off-the-shelf solutions with their own energy supply. Research scientists from the Fraunhofer Technology Development Group TEG in Stuttgart have now joined forces with industrial partners and universities in the EnAS project, sponsored by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology, to build a transportable demonstrator. This is a miniature conveyer system driven by compressed air that transports small components in an endless cycle.
The round workpieces are picked up by a vacuum gripper, transported a short way and set down on a small carrier, which conveys the parts back to the starting point. All steps of the process are monitored by sensors as usual. The special feature of the demonstrator is that the sensing elements have no need of an external power supply. The machine uses photo diodes, for instance, to check whether the carrier has been correctly loaded – if so, the light from the diodes is obscured by the workpieces. Solar cells supply the energy for this workpiece detector.
Another example are pressure sensors which monitor the work of the vacuum gripper. In this case, the power is supplied by piezoelectric flexural transducers. The piezoelectric elements contain ceramics that generate electricity on being deformed. This deformation happens when the vacuum pump is switched on and off. The electricity thus generated is sufficient to send an OK signal to the central control unit. The sensor thus draws its power from pressurized air that is present anyway.
Within the next two years, the various system components are expected to make their way into everyday industrial use.
Monika Weiner | alfa
Supersonic waves may help electronics beat the heat
18.05.2018 | DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Researchers control the properties of graphene transistors using pressure
17.05.2018 | Columbia University
At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.
At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...
There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?
At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...
So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics
Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...
The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...
A team led by Austrian experimental physicist Rainer Blatt has succeeded in characterizing the quantum entanglement of two spatially separated atoms by observing their light emission. This fundamental demonstration could lead to the development of highly sensitive optical gradiometers for the precise measurement of the gravitational field or the earth's magnetic field.
The age of quantum technology has long been heralded. Decades of research into the quantum world have led to the development of methods that make it possible...
02.05.2018 | Event News
13.04.2018 | Event News
12.04.2018 | Event News
22.05.2018 | Life Sciences
22.05.2018 | Earth Sciences
22.05.2018 | Trade Fair News