International supplier of pneumatic and electrical automation technology Festo has introduced several new products to its range of automation products.
The first of these is a range of water flow sensors, the SFAW sensor. Festo electronic products manager Ernst Smith says this forms part of the company’s water-flow-sensor range and is unique in that it showcases an integrated temperature sensor and flow sensor in one unit.
The sensors have a digital display and can be set to alert the operator if the flow of water or the temperature is too high. In addition, they come standard with analogue and digital outputs, which could be wired back to programmable logic controllers and other types of control systems.
The sensors are available in sizes of half an inch or one inch and have a flow rate of up to 85 ℓ/min.
The sensors are commonly used in the automotive industry for welding gun applications where the measurement of the cooling water flow and temperature is critical.
Festo has also developed a new-generation pressure and vacuum transmitter, the SPTE, to the market. This product is unique, owing to its compact design, variety of mounting positions and affordability.
“The first mounting option is called the socket mount. The transmitter has a male connector which allows it to be mounted directly into a push-in type fitting. No fittings and tools are required, which makes the fitting of the unit fast and convenient. Typical applications of this would be for monitoring vacuum or air pressure at various test points within a factory or on a machine,” says Smith.
The second mounting option is in-line, which is possibly the most common in the industry. The unit is so compact that Festo also provides a mounting strap to mount several of the sensors alongside each other in series.
The third mounting option is the flange mount. This unique design now makes it possible to mount the transmitter onto any vessel. Three small holes are all that is required – one to pass air into the unit to the test, and the other two for the mounting screws. This option should be particularly interesting for machine builders for special- purpose machinery.
“The transmitter comes stand-ard with an analogue output of either 1 to 5 V or 0 to 10 V,” explains Smith.
The company also manu-factures the world-first VPPM proportional pressure regulator. What makes this proportional pressure regulator unique is that it can be mounted independently in the field, as is conventionally done, or it can be combined on Festo’s CPX-MPA platform.
“The CPX-MPA has become the benchmark in valve terminals in the industry. The variety of pneumatic and electrical options and unrivalled technology have made this a winning platform,” the company states.
Festo business development manager Russell Schwulst says the CPX-MPA is available in more than one-million com-binations and its modular design makes it a very cost-effective control system.The company
has a benefit statement which is called Simply Festo. The CPX-MPA platform does just that – it makes it easier for the customer through simplified design, simplified automation, simplified parameterisation and simplified diagnostics.
Now one can mount the VPPM directly onto the CPX-MPA, adding yet another feature to this already extensive offering.
“The CPX-MPA is a conveni-ent and powerful platform for the VPPM proportional regulator. Fieldbus and Ethernet connectivity on the CPX-MPA now enables the user to couple the unit to the network. In doing so, the additional func-tionality, like diagnostics and parameterisation, is now possible for proportional valves. The ability to couple directly to a Fieldbus enables precise and extremely accurate control, there- by minimising overshoot of the proportional pressure regula-tion,” says Smith.
The proportional regulator has a flow rate of up to 1 650 ℓ/min at 10 bar and is also available with an integrated display. In combination with solenoid valves mounted on the valve terminal, it is now possible to combine several proportional pressure regulators with solenoid valves on one terminal. The result is that different zones of regulated air pressure can be achieved, giving customers more control of their pneumatic devices.
“Pin-point diagnostics is of upmost import-ance in the industry today. It simplifies main-tenance and saves time,” he says.
The CPX-MPA is a platform to a host of devices, from solenoid valves to proportional regulators. Its diagnostics feature provides information to the user about undervoltage, overvoltage, short circuits and open circuits. In addition, the feature also counts the cycles of the device being actuated.
This information can be fed back through the Fieldbus to warn the user to take certain preventive maintenance actions after a certain number of cycles has been achieved. All of this contributes to less downtime and more production.
Another product that has been added to the CPX platform is the PROFIsafe electronics module CPX-VFDA-P. The unit is mounted onto the CPX valve terminal.
This unit allows valves and valve terminals to be switched off reliably and without trouble should a safety condition arise. The integrated solution into the CPX platform simplifies planning and engineering, as no third-party component needs to be integrated into the system. It also reduces the overall costs, as no wiring needs to be done because it slots into the CPX valve terminal.
Festo responded to the automotive industry’s need to have an integrated PROFI-safe module, as the energy generated by pneumatic devices also poses safety hazards. Proper safety control is now possible within pneumatics.
Festo pneumatics product manager Brian Abbot says one of the many innovative products to come out of the company is the handling unit, the Bernoulli gripper.
This gripper’s customised design uses standard compressed air that creates a low-pressure zone and the air that escapes generates an air cushion that enables contactless handling.
The unit minimises workpiece contact, resulting in gentle workpiece handling. Other benefits include high-suction forces, low noise and lower air consumption for low-energy costs.
The product can be used on solar cell and wafer transport, thin-layer solutions, glass, flat panels, electronic printed circuit boards and photovoltaic cells.
The Bernoulli gripper also works on porous materials, plastics and corrugated boards.
The gripper is easy to maintain, as it self-cleans and does not suck in dust that would clog and damage vacuum pumps.
Abbot highlights that, in an effort to learn about energy efficiency, materials application and new technology, parent company Festo Germany and universities in that region created the Bionic Learning Network, where concepts from nature are studied and turned into products.
One of the developments to come out of the learning centre is the adaptive gripper, which serves as a handling unit – the first of its kind, as it adapts to the shape of the object it handles.
It was developed using prototype three-dimensional printing technology, as opposed to being mass-produced using an injection-moulding machine.
The unit can handle objects of up to 1 kg and its jaws can be used on standard grippers.
Abbot notes that many popular innovative developments have come out of the learning centre and this assists the company in the use of new technologies to design and manufacture products that increase the significance of automation.