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Hannover Messe 2017

CAN at the world’s biggest industry show

The Hannover Messe 2017 is one of the most important industrial trade-shows. CAN-based solutions are mainly hidden in not visible embedded systems.

About 225 000 visitors came to the industrial trade-show in Hanover, in hall 9 many CiA members showed their products (Photo: Hannover Messe)

Germany is the country, in which most of the world-leading tradeshows are at home. The Hannover Messe is the biggest industry show worldwide with more than 6 500 exhibitors and about 225 000 visitors in 2017. In the 90ties, CAN in Automation (CiA) organized in Hanover joint stands promoting CAN in industrial automation. Nowadays, CiA is not longer present on this fair. Nevertheless, there are a lot of CAN-based products, often hidden in embedded systems.

This year, CAN was somehow visible at the fairground, but still you needed to ask. Schunk presented its awarded Co-act JL1 gripper. Two models of this series feature CAN connectivity. Another example is the Bioniccobot arm exhibited by Festo implementing an embedded CANopen network. This product was developed with the company’s Bionic research program.

Most of the visitors have not recognized these products as CAN devices. There was no information visible that CAN is embedded. Germany’s chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel and the Polish prime minister Beata Szydło might also have not been aware of CAN technology. They visited during their tour on the fairground Schunk and some CiA members (e.g. Faulhaber, Festo, and Lenze). The pioneers in CANopen-connectable devices belong to the “hidden champions” offering. This year, Poland was the partner country at the Hanover Fair; next year it will be Mexico. Other German government’s members also visited the tradeshow, for example, Germany’s Minister of Commerce, Brigitte Zypries.

The German chancellor, Dr. Angela Merkel (left), and the Polish prime minister, Beata Szydło, touched the awarded Schunk gripper, which provides optionally CAN connectivity (Photo: Hannover Messe)
Germany’s Minister of Commerce, Brigitte Zypries, visited the booth of CiA member ifm (Photo: ifm)

CiA member ESD located in Hanover was present with its own booth as usual. This year, the local hero was very satisfied with the tradeshow. In the last years, many of the smaller CiA members have moved from the world biggest industry fair to other tradeshows, e.g. the SPS IPC Drives and the Embedded World. The big players in industrial automation are still exhibiting in Hanover. Some of them show their CAN products, but the focus is on Ethernet-based solutions, even if CAN-connectable products make more business.

The Protop power supply features an optional CANopen interface (Photo: Wiedmueller)

Weidmueller presented, for example, its Protop power-supply with an optional CANopen interface. Not a big thing, but unique. The power supply is designed for use in applications such as wind power systems. Eaton exhibited on its booth also some new CANopen products. They are used, for example, in wind power systems and other applications in challenging environments. Baumueller showed on a niche of its stand CAN-connectable motors for electrical-powered road-cleaners, boats, and light electrical vehicles. Phoenix Contact displayed a charging station for e-cars. The controller features CAN-connectivity, which is not used yet. It could be used for the Japanese Chademo standard, for example.

For industrial automation purposes, many companies offer CANopen I/O modules. Some of them are IP67-rated and are connected via gateways to an I/O block with an Ethernet head module. For example, Beckhoff, B&R, Eaton, Wago, and Weidmueller provide such solutions. This means, CAN moves more to the front-end, where in the past discrete serial links were preferred. CAN-based networks also dominate in applications, in which price matters or in which the environment conditions are challenging, for example, in wind power systems. This was a unanimously statement on all booths of companies, providing CANopen remote I/O devices.

In motion control, CANopen is especially used in applications where space is limited. Dunkermotoren, Faulhaber, and Maxon presented at the Hannover Messe 2017 CiA 402 compliant drives. Nearly all drive and motion control providers still support CANopen for machines with reasonable speed requirements. Not every machine needs highly synchronized axes at very high speeds. But this is state-of-the-art, CiA 402 compliant CANopen drives were not explicitly highlighted at the suppliers’ stands.