Process and cost control

Innovation in control and automation technology efficiency is among the key themes of Hannover Messe 2009, reports E&T.

With process efficiency expected to make a crucial contribution to cost-savings in these financially-straitened times, the ability to control and manage automated machinery in plants and manufacturing is embracing new levels of innovation. Machinery and plant have to do more than just turn out a product: they need to prove their economic credentials. Operating costs and down-time must be reduced, minimised and re-minimised - accuracy of performance calculation is key.

Hannover Messe 2009's display section - Condition Monitoring Systems (CMS) at the Motion, Drive & Automation Hall (#24) - is designed to show how having precise data of the condition and status of machinery and plant enables operators to introduce improvements and achieve better levels of efficiency without adding to complexity. For example, it is relatively simple to incorporate technology into pump controls that enables them to diagnose blockages, dry running, vapour locks, cavitation, excessive wear, over--loading, and poor efficiency. Remedial action can then be taken before serious damage occurs.

Usually a sensor, an electronic analyser, or a remote system, is sufficient to achieve results in machine diagnostics. The HydacLab pocket-size diagnostic lab, for instance, can check the condition of the oil in a gearbox or hydraulic system. Vibration sensors also give an important indication of the operating behaviour or the degree of wear in machinery and plant.

"Vast sums of money can also be lost when rolling mills have to be shut down to undergo a service," points out Peter-Michael Synek, project manager for Germany's central engineering federation VDMA, and co-organiser of the CMS display. "In one case, the introduction of a CMS to monitor the operation of a cold-rolling stand for aluminium has saved the plant operator €200,000 a year."

On the move

Motion, Drive & Automation (MDA), the trade fair for power transmission and control, will also take place as part of Hannover Messe 2009, with over 1,100 international exhibitors showcasing electrical, mechanical, hydraulic and pneumatic products. The synergies between MDA and Wind are the latest addition to an 'energy mix' ethos in Hall 27.

Mechanical and electric drive systems will be centred in Halls 24, 25, and 27; hydraulic and pneumatic systems will be co-located in Halls 19 to 23. This is also the venue for the Water Hydraulics display, where ten exhibitors will demonstrate the benefits of water as a non-flammable, non-toxic and environmentally-friendly power transmission medium. Water hydraulic systems are already deployed in ecologically sensitive areas such as mining, food production, semiconductor production, nuclear installations and metal foundries. Hall 24 is also home to the MDA Forum, where speakers will be exploring key concepts in industrial management and citing best practice case histories.

E-motive, meanwhile, is an initiative sponsored by power research association the FVA and power systems manufacturers industry association the VDMA, in association with Hannover Messe. Its purpose is to highlight the links between the electrical and automotive industries, with its main focus on electrified power trains, which is a system of propulsion in a mobile machine that consists (in part) of an electric motor. This definition encompasses common hybrid concepts, as well as all-electric drives.

"The introduction of electric-powered vehicles on a mass scale means a radical change for the car industry, which has been built entirely around the internal combustion engine," says the triple-hatted Bernhard Hagemann, E-MOTIVE initiator, VDMA adviser, and FVA deputy director. "This poses a huge challenge for car manufacturers, and for the entire value-adding chain, which includes component suppliers, producers of machine tools, and raw material suppliers."

The advent of high-performance electric motors and the associated power electronics, as well as new battery technologies, creates a demand for new types of automotive components.

Partners in the production chain can learn from each other, Hagemman says, given that electric power has long been used to drive stationary machinery in the mechanical engineering sector.

"In the current debate, Li-ion battery packs and hydrogen/fuel cell combinations have emerged as the main options for on-board energy storage in vehicles," Hagemann adds.

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