Industrial PCs ease integration

Robotic integration: Hardware and software advancements, such as multi-core processors and industrial Ethernet fieldbus technology, are enabling engineers to integrate cost-effective robotic solutions with motion control, communications, and human-machine interfaces.

12/25/2013


This robot arm used in a welding application implemented by Houston-based ARC Specialties uses a CX1010 Embedded PC and TwinCAT NC PTP software from Beckhoff Automation to cost-effectively control a Fanuc ArcMate M710IC-50 robot and nearby machine, positiAdding open-control hardware and software to the convergence of well-known controls principles makes it possible to create machine designs that feature seamlessly integrated robots. This results in game-changing advantages for machine builders and manufacturers and the ability to integrate robot technology into more applications, including those that are traditionally among the most cost-sensitive.

The cost-saving benefits that make this possible include: reduced wiring, network and software platforms that are shared with the overall machine automation system, and a significantly reduced machine footprint. This has led to higher performance mechatronic and robotic solutions, including product packaging with variable product flow and complex material handling lines.

Previously, most machine control architectures that integrated robotics used independent robot controllers to implement the kinematics. These typically required separate programming from the general machine control and the specific engineered communication infrastructure, with special profiles for each application.

Beckhoff Automation demonstrated motion and robotic control capabilities at Pack Expo 2013 in Las Vegas, with one CX2020 Embedded PC running kinematics for a Codian Robotics delta robot as well as three additional axes of servos that were coordinated withToday, however, robotics and other motion control can be operated by industrial PCs (IPCs) and programmed in the same software environment. Modern multi-core processors, which are now standard in many IPCs, are able to control all automated elements on a machine, especially where intense robot dexterity and speed are required by the application. Only minimum CPU processing power is required for robotic kinematics, leaving ample reserves for other functions, such as measurement, condition monitoring, vision systems, rich multimedia for documentation, and training and tutorial materials. In fact, it is possible to easily run two or more delta robots on the same controller and to coordinate the motion between multiple robots and auxiliary axes by electronic gearing, CAM tables, G-code, and most other standard motion technology.

Another enabling technology that brings robot equipment to a wide range of applications is the broad acceptance of industrial Ethernet fieldbus technology, such as EtherCAT. This network has become a globally accepted standard in the realm of robotics that allows faster integration of kinematic solutions into machinery. In addition to microsecond-level communication speeds and high precision, EtherCAT also brings diagnostics functionality without having to add layers in hardware or software. For example, EtherCAT can automatically detect system line breaks enabling faster problem resolution while running network communications through a flexible data processing mechanism known as “processing on the fly.” All EtherCAT devices on a network can receive and process data independently, without requiring a higher level device to poll the network.

- Matt Lecheler is a motion specialist at Beckhoff Automation; edited by Jordan Schultz, associate content manager, CFE Media, Control Engineering and Plant Engineering, jschultz@cfemedia.com.

ONLINE

See link to related article on a platform integrating PLC, motion control, and robotics below.

For more information on Beckhoff’s robotics software: www.beckhoffautomation.com/kinematics     

Key concepts

  • Open-control hardware and software have made implementing cost-effective robotic solutions easier.

Consider this

  • Robotics integration leads to cost savings and, in turn, higher performance robotics.
  • Powerful industrial PCs now control robotics and other functions simultaneously.
  • Advanced networks increase robotic effectiveness through high-speed communication and diagnostics.


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.
How to use IPD; 2017 Commissioning Giants; CFDs and harmonic mitigation; Eight steps to determine plumbing system requirements
2017 MEP Giants; Mergers and acquisitions report; ASHRAE 62.1; LEED v4 updates and tips; Understanding overcurrent protection
Integrating electrical and HVAC for energy efficiency; Mixed-use buildings; ASHRAE 90.4; Wireless fire alarms assessment and challenges
Power system design for high-performance buildings; mitigating arc flash hazards
Transformers; Electrical system design; Selecting and sizing transformers; Grounded and ungrounded system design, Paralleling generator systems
Commissioning electrical systems; Designing emergency and standby generator systems; VFDs in high-performance buildings
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.
Automation Engineer; Wood Group
System Integrator; Cross Integrated Systems Group
Fire & Life Safety Engineer; Technip USA Inc.
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
click me