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CANopen Lift

Old and new products seen at the Interlift 2015

At the Interlift, CAN in Automation (CiA) exhibited its CANopen Lift demonstrator comprising some new products. Furthermore several companies pre-announced to support CiA 417.

CANopen Lift is increasingly accepted as the open network standard for lifts and elevators (Photo: CiA)

THE INTERLIFT 2015 IN AUGSBURG, Germany has closed its doors. CiA was present as usual with its CANopen Lift demonstrator showing the interoperability of CiA 417 compliant devices. Of course, in a conservative industry the number of innovations is limited. The CAN Newsletter reported already in front of the biannually exhibition about some recently launched products. During the tradeshow additional exhibitors promised to support CANopen Lift in the near future. In particular, companies from Turkey pre-announced some products: Genemek, CiA member since summer 2015, will implement CANopen Lift in its panels and other products. Arkel, controller manufacturers headquartered in Turkey, considers supporting CiA 417 in future products.

The Turkish neighbor of the CiA booth , Genemek, offers a proprietary CAN solution, but will migrate soon to CANopen Lift (Photo: CiA)

Sprinte (France) showed its CANopen Lift controller on the CiA booth as well as its own stand. The French competitor Sodimas will also provide CiA 417 compliant controllers. Besides Schmersal (formerly Böhnke + Partner), Weber, Intec, RST, Kollmorgen, and some others exhibited a CANopen Lift controller on their booth.

If you think of elevators, normally you imagine a car entering it, pushing a button to the desired floor. But there are also other applications: for example, the Mami Wata log flume in an Austrian pleasure park using an inclined elevator. The MLC-8000 controller from Intec (Germany) controls it. This controller complies with CiA 417 and can communicate to other CANopen Lift devices.

A usual application for the MLC-8000 controller: Lifting the boats in the Mami Wata log flume (Photo: Intec)

The days are gone, in which CANopen Lift inverters were quite rare. Besides the “old” heroes such as Emerson (Control Technique), Fuji (Japan), Liftequip, and Ziehl-Abegg, “new” competitors presented their CiA 417 compliant inverters. Among them Gefran (Italy), KEB (Germany), and Yaskawa (Japan). Some of them have already participated in the CANopen Lift plug-fests organized by CiA. In these plug-fests the interoperability to the CANopen Lift host controllers are approved. During the Interlift, additional inverter suppliers pre-announced CiA 417 support, e.g. Mitsubishi (Japan). Other companies used the opportunity to get first-hand information on CANopen Lift at the CiA booth.

The increasing interest in CANopen Lift leads also to new products. W + W (Germany) offers, for example, pre-configured CAN cables to be used in lift control systems featuring CiA 417 networks. The product family comprises trunk lines, stub lines, and special cables for inverters as well as shaft copying systems. These pre-configured cables come with 4-pole plugged AMP connectors. There is also a Y-adaptor.

For the first time on the CiA booth: The Ants family of positioning sensor by Variotech (Photo: CiA)

One of the reasons of the CiA 417 success is the close cooperation within the community. Besides the pre-competitive work on the technical specification, and the interoperability testing the biannually plug-fests, and the joint marketing activities, the community members team-up also regarding product development and distribution. Weber offers, for example, the b408 controller, which fits into the lift car’s door frame. Of course, the company still sells its own CANopen Lift controllers. Another example is, Elfin (Germany), founded by Joerg Hellmich, one of the CANopen Lift fathers. The company provides consultancy services and CiA 417 implementation support as well as displays for CANopen Lift.

In general, competition is appreciated. CANopen Lift specifies just the communication interfaces. The technology, for example, for positioning sensors, may differ. The Ants positing system by Variotech (Austria) is a typical example: If you like this sensor more than the traditional encoders, you can migrate to them, because the PDOs look the very same independent of the used sensor technology. This is also true for the load measuring products by Henning (Germany) and the Spanish competitor, Dinacell. From a communication point of view, the Weightwatcher AE12 (Henning) and the Omega 12-C system (Dinacell) behave equally.