Production is on the threshold of the fourth industrial revolution. The factory of the future is becoming more networked and intelligent, and the requirements of a very clean and process-reliable working environment are also constantly increasing. This is why Festo has been looking intensively into superconductivity technology and its industrial use for years.
Contactless transport systems are easy to clean and can be better protected against contamination by using covers. Automation technology with superconductor technology opens up enormous potential here: it enables a hovering gap, which remains stable in any position and even through walls, without the need for additional control technology.
Storage or motion without contact is now also becoming possible for applications that until now have been seen as impossible to automate or only with difficulty.
Over the past four years, Festo has already developed 15 different concepts for four key areas of automation: for transporting in all spatial planes, transferring hovering objects, handling with spatial separation and for changing hovering objects and setting them in motion. At the Hannover Messe 2017, once again Festo is presenting three concepts for hovering technology: SupraDrive, SupraShaker and SupraLoop.
SupraDrive: dynamic linear motion
How a hovering transporting slide can move back and forth at high speed and be accurately positioned on the track is demonstrated by the SupraDrive concept. Superconductors and magnets take care of the hovering, whilst the drive unit, consisting of the Multi-Carrier-System developed by Festo and Siemens, is responsible for the motion and free positioning. All drive components can be installed under a cover, thus protecting them from contamination.
The system can be cleaned very easily, even without interrupting the transport process, which is called for in laboratory automation, medical technology, the food or pharmaceutical industry or packaging technology, for example.
SupraShaker: hovering vibration system with tilt option
On the SupraShaker, a plate hovers above a cryostat with superconductors. An electric motor with eccentric cam causes it to make a shaking motion. The hovering gap between the plate and the automation system ensures the tool and machine are mechanically separated and prevents the vibrations from being transferred to the whole facility. Shaking processes can be made much quieter and more efficient with such a construction. The plate can very easily be replaced and cleaned, which is particularly practical when using it in dusty environments.
SupraLoop: a combination of different transport systems
The SupraLoop exhibit combines two different transport systems using the superconductor technology. A classic conveyor belt, the Multi-Carrier-System developed by Festo and Siemens as well as a SupraMotion system, are put together to form a circular route. Several carriers are transported on this. The magnets on its underside are used both for coupling it with the Multi-Carrier-Systems without contact as well as for the hovering effect on the SupraMotion system. Individual carriers can be transferred from the conveyor belt onto the cryostats with superconductors and then be move by hovering whilst coupled to these – even beyond separating elements and walls. You could therefore drive into a clean room without contact, for example.