Automation came back to life at SPS

17 January 2023

Suzanne Gill looks at some of the highlights of the SPS 2022 event, which was the first physical version of the event since 2019.

I think everyone who attended the SPS exhibition last November were pleased to be able to visit the show in person for the first time since 2019. While a smaller event than in pre-covid years, it was nonetheless a busy show, and the organisers say there were almost 44,000 visitors over three days visiting 1,000 exhibitors. 

The results of a visitor survey reflect high levels of satisfaction with the event, with 95% planning to return in the future. 91% rate the event as important or very important for their company and 91% will recommend the SPS to their colleagues and customers

Themes running through many booths around the event included sustainability in automation, safety and security, and robotic integration.

Liberating stranded data
Emerson used the event to demonstrate how its intelligent automation solutions can help improve productivity and sustainability, showcasing a range of industrial controls and automation technologies, including SCADA/HMI software, smart pneumatics and industrial internet of things (IIoT) solutions and electric actuator solutions. 

Emerson’s multimedia monitoring solutions have been developed to help optimise energy and utilities usage. A demonstration on the stand featured a turnkey engineered solution, incorporating an edge controller with integrated analytics, pneumatic valve system and power supply. Using open protocol communications to connect to a broad range of instruments and sensors, data can be aggregated and visualised to enable monitoring, analysis and trending of compressed air, gas, water, steam and energy consumption. 

Meanwhile, its scalable PACSystems platform provides control, analytics and visualisation in discrete, hybrid and process applications. PACSystems edge controllers are able to operate as either an IIoT-enabled PLC or an advanced supervisory controller. In addition, Emerson’s compact industrial computing and operator interfaces offer analytics and graphics capability for edge applications and reduced footprints. PACSystems edge solutions are said to include true edge controllers, edge computing devices and compact controllers, making use of Movicon.NExT, WebHMI, Connext OPC UA server and the PACEdge platforms in optimised software packages to provide powerful and flexible connectivity and visualisation, and a cloud-enabled toolset to help make the move to the edge easy and to help liberate stranded data.

Empowering the intelligent edge 
Analog Devices, Inc (ADI) displayed a range of solutions that empower the intelligent edge in applications including robotics, condition-based monitoring, sensing, and factory digitisation.

One display of an open-source autonomous mobile robot (AMR) showcased how ADI’s interoperable technology platforms and robot operating system software drivers can reduce development overheads and accelerate times to market. Precise robot navigation and accurate obstacle avoidance is enabled by depth sensing, intelligent AI processing and mapping, wireless latency-free communications. 

ADIs battery monitor and Trinamic solutions for efficient wheel drives are designed to enable a complete AMR system to be easily architected and optimised for industrial environments.  

Visitors to the stand could also experience a seamlessly connected edge to enterprise industrial automation environment, with ADI Chronous, Ethernet-APL for IP-addressable field devices, IO-Link connected factory sensors and actuators, and software configurable control systems. A demonstration showed how key measurement data and auxiliary diagnostic information can be aggregated in real time to capture new insights, reducing waste and increasing overall production efficiency. Time Sensitive Networking (TSN) technology showcases how both standard Ethernet traffic and time-critical traffic can coexist in a converged network, facilitating seamless factory upgrades and flexible manufacturing.

Accelerating the transformation
Siemens used its annual SPS press event to highlight its Xcelerator open digital business platform which is said to enable customers to accelerate their digital transformation. The aim of the new business platform is to make the digital transformation easier, faster, and scalable. 

It consists of three pillars – A portfolio of modular software and IOT-enabled hardware built on standard application programming interfaces and including a variety of services from Siemens and certified third-parties; Because today no single company can master digitalisation alone Siemens has opened up to collaboration with certified partners from the largest tech companies to small independent software vendors and is able to offers a growing ecosystem of partners; and finally it offers a marketplace which facilitates interaction and transactions between customers, partners, and developers, offering an environment to learn, exchange and access the growing portfolio.

Heightened profile
Inovance Technology attended the event to heighten its profile on the international stage, exhibiting a full portfolio of industrial automation products, led by its core product range of AC drives and servos. 

Its flagship product, the MD800 compact AC multidrive – winner of a Red Dot innovative product design award in 2021 – uses a modular design to reduce drive footprint by up to 50% compared to traditional single drive modules. 

Over the last three years, Inovance has grown significantly in Europe. It has opened offices and hired teams across the continent, including in Stuttgart (the European HQ), Milan, Bordeaux, and Istanbul. A brand-new office in Barcelona is due to open any day now too. All offices host technical sales and service teams, while the Stuttgart office also hosts an R&D team dedicated to ensuring that their products meet the needs of European customers. 

The company also used the event to introduce three new products – the SV670 servo series, the Easy Series PLC, and the GL20 new generation I/O modules. The Easy Series PLC is an EtherCAT enabled PLC with a compact footprint and PLCopen compliant axis control. 

SPE application
With Single Pair Ethernet (SPE) considered to be one of the most important trends for the future of industrial communication, HARTING presented the technology in an application with its Ha-VIS eCon SPE switch. This solution enables data transmission at gigabit speeds and a simultaneous power supply by only one wire pair. In addition, it highlighted the Mini PushPull ix Industrial as a resource- and space-saving Ethernet interface which is said to be idea for scenarios in smaller devices and field level applications.

In addition, the company showcased its SPE Evaluation Board which enables developers to integrate Single Pair Ethernet technology into their products. By way of a 2-wire connection, the SPE board transmits data at 100Mbit/sec as well as power. Thanks to the Arduino-compatible board, it’s easy to get up and running.

Belden used the event to launch a new Industrial Edge solution with Horizon. The new platform is said to meet the need for a simpler, seamless, secure way to connect operational systems at the edge while maintaining security and communication with the cloud. The Horizon console features the same Secure Remote Access (SRA) and Persistent Data Network (PDN) customers enjoyed with ProSoft Connect but adds potential for other functions, such as edge orchestration, data monitoring, and anomaly detection using short interval data.

The Horizon console incorporates software as a service (SaaS) technology that will enable operations personnel to manage industrial edge devices more efficiently, allowing users to deploy and manage applications across one device or many devices at the same time locally or remotely.

Next year’s exhibition for smart and digital automation will be held on 14-16 November 2023 in Nuremberg. For more information, please visit

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