Festo - Transporting and manoeuvring in suspension with superconductivity

-At the Hannover Messe trade fair, Festo is showcasing three new Future Concepts for automation with superconductor technology -Festo is showcasing three new, exciting concepts for the industrial application of superconductor technology at the Hanover Messe 2017.

With SupraDrive a suspended transport sledge can operate highly dynamically, with SupraShaker a suspended vibration system with tilting option is realised. SupraLoop shows how the superconductor technology can be easily combined with other transport systems. All three concepts show the special characteristics of superconductors

which open up great potential wherever contact-free storage or handling is required - energy efficient and effective.

Superconductors are materials which below a certain temperature can store the field of a permanent magnet at a predefined distance. This effect enables objects to be held in position and manoeuvred without contact. The levitation gap remains stable even beyond walls. Thanks to their restoring forces the superconductive magnetic bearing components autonomously return to their memorized position even when one of them is temporarily removed - entirely without external control engineering.

"The special characteristics of superconductors open up great potential for them wherever contact-free storage or handling is required. Automation can thus make inroads into areas of application that until now have been regarded as not or only hardly accessible to automation," said Georg Berner, Head of Strategic Corporate Development, Group Holding Festo and Project Coordinator for the SupraMotion concepts. "We have now developed a total of 15 different concepts for four key areas of automation: transportation in any spatial orientation, transferring suspended objects between systems, manoeuvring objects at a distance, and exchanging suspended objects and setting them in motion. We are currently working together with customers on launching some initial pilot projects."

At the Hannover Messe 2017 Festo will be presenting three new possible applications of SupraMotion:

SupraDrive: dynamic linear motion
The SupraDrive exhibit shows how a suspended transport sledge can operate highly dynamically and be precisely positioned. Three cryostats with superconductors mounted on each side of the course enable the sledge to hover a few millimetres above the surface. The movement and positioning are effected by the drive unit from the Multi-Carrier System of Festo, which is installed between the cryostats.

In addition to smooth acceleration and almost wear-free, dynamic movement, this concept has the advantage that all drive components can be enclosed in a casing. This greatly facilitates cleaning, without interruption to the transport process. Since the sledge is in levitation, it cannot be obstructed or soiled by dirt on the surface of the system. This makes for safe operation and a hygienic working environment. Furthermore, the sledge itself moves silently. The concept can be used in areas where components must be cleaned frequently or during operation, for example in laboratory automation, in medical engineering, or in the food, pharmaceutical and packaging industries.

SupraLoop: a combination of various transport systems
The combination of different transport systems with superconductor technology is demonstrated by the SupraLoop exhibit, which comprises three individual transport systems operating on a circuit: a classic conveyor belt, the Multi-Carrier System from Festo and Siemens, and a SupraMotion system.

Several carriers are transported by SupraLoop. Their magnetised undersides serve both for the magnetic coupling to the contactless drive unit of the Multi-Carrier System and for the levitation effect of the SupraMotion system. By means of a set of points, a carrier can be transferred from the conveyor belt to the cryostats with superconductors and then be coupled to them and transported in suspension - even beyond partitions and walls. A possible application would be to remove individual transport sledges from a process, in order to transfer them to a clean room without contact, or to treat objects carried by them with gases or liquids within an enclosed space.

SupraShaker: a suspended vibration system with tilting option
With SupraShaker, a plate is suspended above a cryostat with superconductors. An eccentric electric motor sets it in vibration via a magnetic coupling. Tilting in any desired direction is also possible thanks to transfer of a magnetic field. The levitation gap between the plate and the automation system ensures mechanical separation between the tool and the machine and prevents the vibrations from being transferred to the overall system. Shaking processes, as used with vibration conveyors, could be carried out much more quietly and efficiently with this type of apparatus. The plate can be very easily exchanged or cleaned; this would be an advantage especially in dusty environments.

All three exhibits are controlled by the CPX automation platform, which includes an OPC-UA interface

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