Automation by the Numbers
ABB will supply the complete integrated electrical and automation system for Mo.S.E. (the Italian acronym for experimental electromechanic module), a flood barrier system designed to block the high tides and storm surges that enter the Venetian Lagoon and regularly flood the historic center of Venice. The system will manage data signals from more than 50,000 devices and coordinate operation of the entire flood protection system, consisting of flood barriers, navigation locks, and breakwaters, to shield the lagoon from rising sea levels, winter storms, and spring tides. Mo.S.E. has 78 flood barriers embedded in the sea floor at the three inlets to Venice’s lagoon. These water-filled steel boxes can be raised with compressed air in 30 minutes, creating a barrier able to withstand incoming high-water levels up to 3 meters above normal on short notice.
ABB’s Symphony Plus automation software platform will control the raising and lowering of the barriers according to preset parameters whenever high water approaches or leaves the lagoon. The company will also provide an integrated electrical automation solution enabling remote operators to control the power network.
Endress+Hauser invests more than 7 percent of its worldwide sales in research and development, and the company has a long tradition of honoring its inventors. Employees who have filed a patent are invited to the annual Innovators’ Meeting. “This is how we show our inventors that we appreciate their work,” says Michael Ziesemer, deputy CEO. Attended by more than 300 people, the 2016 event took place on 11 March at the exhibition center in Mulhouse, France. Patents that are particularly important in economic terms received prizes during the festive event.
“With 270 first applications and 456 patents granted, we’re pleased to report that we once more exceeded last year’s good results,” says Angelika Andres, head of PatServe, Endress+Hauser’s intellectual property department. On average, four out of five invention disclosures from Endress+Hauser’s rank and file are forwarded to the patent office. More than half of these have global relevance and are also patented in the U.S. and in China. Only about 30 percent of all patents reach business relevance, often after many years, but they are crucially important for the group’s growth.
The number of components in the EPLAN Data Portal will exceed 600,000 from more than 125 component manufacturers, including several leading North American companies. Only a year ago, the portal listed 490,000 such data sets from 79 manufacturers. User download rates have roughly doubled over the same period. The portal is an easily searchable, cloud-based platform, accessible from within the organization’s engineering software, via a web browser, or from the organization’s data portal app. Users have real-time access to parts and device data. The data sets for these components are validated and presented in a standardized format, so users can drag and drop them from a portal search right into EPLAN programs, automatically creating master data sets. This reduces the configuration effort and data-entry error risk from manually creating data sets and increases the quality of machine and system documentation.
In 2015, the number of industrial robots sold worldwide surpassed the 240,000 unit mark for the first time. This corresponds to global year-on-year growth of 8 percent. The greatest demand was again registered by the automotive industry, according to the statistical department at the International Federation of Robotics (IFR).
China continues to exhibit the highest demand for industrial robots—sales rose by 16 percent. Despite the general perception of a “reluctant” investment climate, China extended its position as the top sales market worldwide with unit sales reaching 66,000. This includes the units sold by local Chinese suppliers. Total sales in China, however, remained below the original IFR forecast of 30 percent. Demand in Asia, excluding China, remained at a high level with 78,000 units sold.
Sales of industrial robots in Europe rose by a record 9 percent to nearly 50,000 units. Eastern Europe, with growth of 29 percent, was one of the fastest growing regions globally. The number of units deployed in North America also broke a new record. In the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, a total of 34,000 units were sold in 2015, representing year-on-year growth of 11 percent.