In the context of increasing automation in industry, industrial robots are seen by some as a potential threat, by others as intelligent assistants. In this issue of Electricity + Control we look at the future of collaborative robots which are designed to work with people and offer valuable advantages for high-mix low-volume production, as well as in materials handling across manufacturing industries. We also look at sensors as a critical element in control systems and automation, serving as collectors and transmitters of data – on industrial processes as well as on their own status – and the communication technologies and channels best suited to transferring this data to where it is needed.
Electrical protection and safety is always an important consideration in industry. DEHN + SӦHNE share their expertise in designing lightning protection systems for hazardous areas, and JB Switchgear Solutions takes a further look at the terminology of the IEC 61439 safety standard, focusing on the rated diversity factor in electrical switchgear assemblies. Safety is also an important consideration with regard to cables – of all sizes – and in this feature we touch on just some of the ways in which cables can be protected.
With regard to plant maintenance, a retrofit case study, where modern electrical control and drive technology was installed in a precision machining plant, demonstrates how such specialised operations can be renewed and maintained.
In terms of measurement and instrumentation, we look closely at two different case studies relating to pressure and level measurement where different measurement instruments are used to deliver reliable results.
In his comment Ian Jandrell remarks on South Africa’s young scientists’ achievements at the recent Intel International Science and Engineering Fair and reflects on the importance of STEM in education today. He salutes the problem-solvers, young and old, who seek out solutions and who will develop the new technologies needed to solve today’s challenges.