UK’s Drives & Controls

The fourth UK Drives and Controls conference and Show is more popular than ever, with a 100% sell-out. BY chris webb

In 1996 it gave us a rush of new linear motors and mini PLCs, induction motors with piggy back drives and soft starts. This year’s Drives and Controls in Telford, UK (March 11-13), looks set to be another blockbuster.

Saturation of 5,500m2 of exhibition space by almost 200 exhibitors, among them many big names new to the event, has prompted the organisers to predict it will smash the 20% annual growth of former years and attract an estimated 7,000 visitors at the gate.

Fast gaining a reputation as a crucible of technical innovation, Telford once again sets the scene for one of the most focused exhibitions in the European calendar.

It may not be everyone’s idea of the exhibition circuit’s Mecca, but the venue has endeared itself to many veterans of the Drives and Controls show. It has come a long way since its fledgling days at Birmingham’s Motor Cycle Museum in 1994. But now even the Telford venue is bursting at the seams.

Many new names

Some distance from the NEC in Birmingham, it is nevertheless still within relatively easy reach of the industrial Midlands, the natural hinterland of many participants.

Visitors know what to expect. They will not leave disappointed this year, which sees the addition of a number of new names, including Honeywell, Lucas, Penny & Giles, SKF, Saftronics and Weidmuller, to name but a few. For returning exhibitors the trend is in favour of bigger stands than before.

Recognised as a launch pad for milestone products, among them direct torque control drives, universal drives, mechatronic machine elements and man machine interfaces, Drives & Controls will this year feature products from a range of emerging technologies, including low cost servo drives, touch screen controls and multi-media for industrial control. Energy saving, EMC and vector control will also feature strongly.

From Bosch comes a new valve lock, the VTS02, with an interface to the ASI actuator sensor bus system, while Phoenix Contact will be showing its InterBus Loop for actuators and sensors for the first time. APC/Omnirel will show its latest high density packaged three-phase brushless motor drive/controller.

High torque sensorless vector control will be making an appearance on the Eurotherm Drives stand, as will Link 2, the fibre optic based drive control system which is making its UK debut. Allen-Bradley’s 1336Plus range of general purpose variable speed drives become a range of sensorless vector drives from 0.37kW right up to 450kW. HID uses the D&C event to announce new networking capability in the form of simple plug-in modules to link variable speed drives and PLCs.

Leroy Somer will be promoting its recently announced MV range of motors, with increased magnetic circuitry and improved lamination design. This is alongside the company’s Varmeca variable speed geared motor, which features built-in frequency inverter. Another motor specialist, VEM Brook Hansen will also be showing new products.

Intelligent operator interface solutions include that from Giddings & Lewis in the form of its TrueView product available in colour and grey scale flatpanels, colour CRTs, touch-screens and touch-panel keypad versions.

Heavy duty and braked versions of Lintra rodless cylinder actuators will be on the Norgren stand, while control valve displays will focus on the Nugget family fieldbus controlled series.

Moving on, an addition to Groupe Schneider’s PLC range will make an appearance with the Modicon TSX Premium, while Cegelec will give us a selection of its latest a.c. and d.c. drives, PLCs and MMI equipment.

Rayleigh Instruments will be exhibiting a range of inductive, capacitive and magnetic proximity sensors. And, Mawdsley’s range of new d.c. motors will take to the stand, featuring improved through-core cooling and high torque to weight ratio. Trident, similarly will exhibit its new A-max range of GRP d.c. motors from Maxon. Direct drive d.c. torque motors from INMOCO will also be on show.

Next, ABB Industrial Systems will introduces four a.c. drives, including the ACS 607, now with double the power range of its predecessor, going from 315 all the way to 630kW.

Others showing new inverters will include IMO Precision Controls, Mitsubishi Electric and Meliamex.

Alongside the exhibition there will be a conference, with five sessions dedicated to the range of technologies. Sessions will cover industrial electric motors and drives, precision drives and control, mechanical power transmission, fieldbuses and communications and fluid power – hydraulic and pneumatic.