Mechatronics: Electromechanical manufacturing systems

A tightly integrated mechatronic system can reduce the machine footprint, shorten programming time, and eliminate dedicated hardware controllers.

05/13/2013


Beckhoff Automation showed its XTS (eXtended Transport System), an example of mechatronics design, at PackExpo, in Chicago, October 2012. CFE Media image by Mark T. HoskeAutomation architectures can use one controller, one network, and one software platform across one system architecture. Such a design can integrate a programmable logic controller (PLC), motion control, safety, communications, and robotics on an industrial PC (IPC) or embedded PC. With this approach, users can replace multiple expensive controllers and “black box” hardware with a more powerful centralized system. For machine and robot builders, this means engineering cost savings with process optimizations, and a significantly smaller footprint on the plant floor.

A key driving force for a unified architecture is a modern multi-core processor technology. As multi-core technology progresses, so too does the capability to add even more functionality. The rise of more integrated automation systems has also produced some very interesting innovations in the area of mechatronics.

Mechatronics demonstration

A modular linear drive that serves as a motion control system is exactly the kind of mechatronic advancement that takes full advantage of more powerful PC-based controllers and one architecture. A machine equipped with such a motion control system would leverage one standard controls architecture (PC-based control), one software platform, and one industrial Ethernet network.

By combining linear motor technology on a continuous motion track with straight and curved track segments, a machine designer can configure topologies that suit numerous applications. Typically, a linear motion system has a linear magnetic track and one active carrier. Motion is constrained to back-and-forth actions on one plane. A modular track, on the other hand, is like an inverse linear motor and is specially engineered for multiple carriers. The track contains the active coils and encoding, while each mover is composed of a passive set of magnets with encoder flag and roller wheels. The simple design delivers outstanding performance. Mechanically driven continuous motion, such as from belts or chains, is out-performed by the modular linear motion system since each mover’s position is controlled individually and can be adjusted with great precision on the fly. Movers can have positioning accuracies of +/-25 µm at 1.5 m/s and a positioning repeatability of less than 10 µm at mover standstill.

Control software can abstract complex underlying control principles, to enable a controls engineer to program against the movers’ absolute position. This means movers are positioned using the same software function blocks as traditional rotary axes. Complex motion tasks are relatively easy to implement, such as electronic gearing and computer-aided motion (CAM) tables between movers or between the movers and external axes like those found on conveyors.

Integrated motion, robotics

Circling back to robotics, it is also possible to pair a full robot system with the mover solution and have the automation software run on one industrial PC. This was demonstrated at Hannover Fair 2013, integrating a delta-style robot performing pick-and-place actions coordinated with the movers at high speed. This PC-based mechatronics approach can streamline automation systems for assembly and material handling applications.

Overall, such a mover system represents a highly efficient way for machine builders and manufacturers to integrate a high-performance mechatronic solution into designs that leverage the same controller, the same software environment, and the same network as the other automation and controls equipment on the machine. A tightly integrated mechatronic system can go a long way for engineers to reduce the machine footprint, shorten programming time, and eliminate dedicated hardware controllers.

- Matt Lecheler is motion specialist at Beckhoff Automation. Edited by Mark T. Hoske, content manager, CFE Media, Control Engineering, mhoske(at)cfemedia.com.

ONLINE

Read "Products use mechatronic design for manufacturing systems" below.

www.beckhoffautomation.com/xts 

Beckhoff Automation YouTube video of the XTS at 2013 Hannover Fair (about 30 sec into the video)



No comments
Consulting-Specifying Engineer's Product of the Year (POY) contest is the premier award for new products in the HVAC, fire, electrical, and...
Consulting-Specifying Engineer magazine is dedicated to encouraging and recognizing the most talented young individuals...
The MEP Giants program lists the top mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection engineering firms in the United States.
High-performance buildings; Building envelope and integration; Electrical, HVAC system integration; Smoke control systems; Using BAS for M&V
Pressure piping systems: Designing with ASME; Lab ventilation; Lighting controls; Reduce energy use with VFDs
Smoke control: Designing for proper ventilation; Smart Grid Standard 201P; Commissioning HVAC systems; Boilers and boiler systems
Case Study Database

Case Study Database

Get more exposure for your case study by uploading it to the Consulting-Specifying Engineer case study database, where end-users can identify relevant solutions and explore what the experts are doing to effectively implement a variety of technology and productivity related projects.

These case studies provide examples of how knowledgeable solution providers have used technology, processes and people to create effective and successful implementations in real-world situations. Case studies can be completed by filling out a simple online form where you can outline the project title, abstract, and full story in 1500 words or less; upload photos, videos and a logo.

Click here to visit the Case Study Database and upload your case study.

Protecting standby generators for mission critical facilities; Selecting energy-efficient transformers; Integrating power monitoring systems; Mitigating harmonics in electrical systems
Commissioning electrical systems in mission critical facilities; Anticipating the Smart Grid; Mitigating arc flash hazards in medium-voltage switchgear; Comparing generator sizing software
Integrating BAS, electrical systems; Electrical system flexibility; Hospital electrical distribution; Electrical system grounding
As brand protection manager for Eaton’s Electrical Sector, Tom Grace oversees counterfeit awareness...
Amara Rozgus is chief editor and content manager of Consulting-Specifier Engineer magazine.
IEEE power industry experts bring their combined experience in the electrical power industry...
Michael Heinsdorf, P.E., LEED AP, CDT is an Engineering Specification Writer at ARCOM MasterSpec.