Photokina 2014 highlights

Efficiency

Researchers at FMTC reduced the power consumption of their badminton robot by 50 percent, ...

Eco-friendly refrigerators, dishwashers, and laundry machines don't just save you money – they're also better for the environment. Factory automation could reap the same rewards, but optimizing production lines isn't easy. That's where the energy efficiency analysis software, developed by the EU-funded Energy Software Tools for Sustainable Machine Design (ESTOMAD) project, enters the picture.  Read More

Schematic diagram of a multi-junction solar cell formed from materials lattice-matched to ...

The current world record for triple-junction solar cell efficiency is 44 percent, but a collaboration between the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), the Imperial College of London, and MicroLink Devices Inc. has led to a multi-junction photovoltaic cell design that could break the 50 percent conversion efficiency barrier under concentrated solar illumination.  Read More

The nanoscale metal mesh that makes up the top layer of the sandwich-like PlaCSH material

One of the main reasons that solar cells aren’t more efficient at converting sunlight into electricity is because much of that sunlight is reflected off the cell, or can’t be fully absorbed by it. A new sandwich-like material created by researchers at Princeton University, however, is claimed to dramatically address that problem – by minimizing reflection and increasing absorption, it reportedly boosts the efficiency of organic solar cells by 175 percent.  Read More

Researchers believe they have cracked the code of spectrum efficiency (tower: Shutterstock...

Wireless carriers love to talk about a Spectrum Crunch. Like oil, wireless spectrum is a finite resource. Companies like AT&T warn that smartphone proliferation is eventually going to leave those "wells" dry. Carriers' answers to the problem usually involve government (less regulations, and more federally-owned spectrum released). However, researchers at U.C. Riverside have another solution: make those networks more efficient.  Read More

Honda's new continuously variable transmission is coming to mid-sized cars

Honda has long championed the continuously variable transmission (CVT) and while this has in the past been largely a technology suited to small cars and even scooters, the Japanese car giant is now thinking bigger.  Read More

Daimler's new GPS-based Predictive Power Control system automatically shifts trucks into l...

Although transport truck drivers routinely shift gears when going up or down hills, those hills can sometimes sneak up on them. Using Daimler’s GPS-enabled Predictive Power Control, however, the new Mercedes-Benz Actros tractor unit will now be able to see those hills coming. This will allow it to automatically change gears before the going gets tough, resulting in fuel savings of up to three percent over moderately difficult topography.  Read More

EBIT is based around an extrusion blow-molding platform, with an added injection-molding u...

Many plastic items consist of both blow-molded and injection-molded components that have been welded together. Not only does this require multiple machines and production steps, but the parts may also fail at the weld points. Spanish research center ASCAMM’s new EBIT technology, however, combines the two plastic injection techniques in one process, to efficiently create weld-free parts.  Read More

Fraunhofer's Multishuttle Moves robots, in the distribution center mock-up

When it comes to groups that work together to get a job done, ants have pretty much got the process perfected. That’s why computer scientist Marco Dorigo studied the creatures’ behavior, and created his Ant Colony Optimization model – an algorithmic technique that can be applied to human endeavors, when efficiency is the order of the day. Scientists from Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics have now applied these algorithms to a swarm of 50 autonomous shuttle robots working in a parts warehouse, in an effort to create a new and better type of materials-handling system.  Read More

The Air Supported Vessel uses a cushion of air to increase speed and improve efficiency (I...

A European project is developing new Air Support Vessel (ASV) hull designs that allow watercraft to ride on a cushion of air to greatly reduce friction between the hull and the water, resulting in more hull speed for less power than conventional designs. The project is part of a EUR10,000,000 (approx. US$13,225,000) project funded in part by the European Union, the Norwegian Research Council and Innovation Norway, and Norwegian company Effect Ships International AS has recently completed tank-testing in Sweden of two ASV hull models.  Read More

Sleeves equipped with sensors have been developed to time the actions of factory workers, ...

In factories where products are mass-produced, it's extremely important to know how long the human workers take to perform certain tasks. This not only allows the pace of the assembly line to be set, but it also allows factory owners to identify time-wasting problems such as superfluous movements, overly frequent tool changes, or impractically-located components. Typically, workers are periodically timed by a stopwatch-wielding supervisor, or using a timer that they start and stop themselves. A new wearable time-keeping system, however, promises more accurate readings.  Read More

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