Mechatronics is defined as the application of mechanical, electrical, and control engineering — along with computer science — to the manufacturing environment. With regard to education in this complex field, new certification methods are being developed to prove competence. Mechatronics certification is moving forward with the just released Introduction to Mechanical Components Certificate test, the second in the Certificate test series from the Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute (PMMI), Arlington, Va. Like the Industrial Electricity Certificate test released in April 2010 by PMMI, the mechanical test is offered online. It covers the principles and applications of mechanical drive components commonly used in packaging machinery and systems, such as shafts, belts, chains, cams, and gears, with an emphasis on application and troubleshooting.

The test was developed in cooperation with the Mid-Atlantic Advisory Council, partner schools, and industry professionals and is based on an industry-recognized skill standard for packaging-related industrial maintenance and mechatronics. With the new test, the industry will be able to measure knowledge against a nationally recognized standard, and schools can then use these standards to develop curriculum that meets the needs of industry. PMMI worked with industry partners and The U.S. Department of Labor to develop the packaging-oriented mechatronics competency model on which the certificate tests are based. For more information, visit pmmiu.org.

SERCOS celebrates 25 years

SERCOS, the Serial Realtime Communication System, announces its 25th anniversary. In the early days, there was a narrowly defined objective: Drive and control system suppliers wanted to define an open standard for the upcoming digital drive technology together with the machine manufacturers, with hard realtime capability as the ultimate benchmark. SERCOS III now combines the approved realtime mechanisms with Ethernet physics, again increasing its acceptance in mechanical and plant engineering. As a universal and open automation bus, SERCOS combines powerful motion and logic applications with current safety concepts and a broad range of peripherals. SERCOS is among the leading digital interfaces for communication between controls, drives, and decentralized peripheral devices. The interface is now implemented in more than 2.5 million realtime nodes. For more information, visit sercos.com.