The annual SPS IPC Drives show in Germany is probably the world’s largest exhibition dedicated to developments in automation. We look at some of the highlights from the most recent event, held last November. The SPS IPC Drives show which took place last November in Nuremberg, Germany, was the last ever with that name. When the exhibition returns later this year, marking its 30th anniversary, it will be known simply as SPS. While the original name was derived from the German equivalent of PLC, SPS will in future stand for Smart Production Solutions. The organisers argue that a “hardware-centric” name such as SPS IPC Drives “no longer reflects the true core of current and future automation technology” which is shifting to software-based function blocks distributed across a wide range of hardware components. The final event under the old name attracted 1,630 exhibitors and 65,700 visitors to Nuremberg. There were 30 fewer exhibitors and 4,564 fewer visitors than the record numbers achieved at the 2017 show – perhaps reflecting the downturn in the German manufacturing sector. One of the dominant themes at the 2018 event was TSN (Time Sensitive Networking). Suppliers were falling ove...