New ELAU software library lets OEMs embed robot functionality in packaging machines
Third party robots with their proprietary controls are giving way to embedded robot functionality in the latest breed of packaging machines. The enabling technologies are innovative mechatronic designs materials such as composites and an IEC-conforming robotic software object library for ELAU’s PacDrive™ automation system.
This approach allows the controller running the rest of the packaging process to control multiple robot arms as modules in the control software program. This eliminates a considerable OEM engineering workload to develop kinematics and to synchronize robots with the packaging machine controller. For users it eliminates the need to learn and support a complete set of ‘black box’ robot control hardware and software.
As a consequence of this achievement ELAU has been nominated for the VDMA Automation Award which will be announced at the 2005 SPS/Drives trade show November 22-24 in Nuremberg.
Controller operates machine and up to 10 robots
The software library can in fact replace up to 10 discrete hardware robot controllers making PacDrive the first automation platform to handle so many robots as well as all other machine functional modules including I/O infeeds collating belts temperature control glue gun firing and programmable limit switches.
High performance no robotic kinematics skills required
All machine modules including the robots are programmed in the company’s EPAS-4 development environment which also provides diagnostic and troubleshooting capabilities.
The robotic software object referred to as a Function Block in the IEC languages includes a transformation module to automatically configure various robot kinematics so that the machine designer needs no special robotic programming skills. These include 2- and 3-axis delta SCARA gantry portal and swan neck robotics. This module is based on the Denavit-Hartenberg Transformation and performs the real time conversion of the robot trajectory from Cartesian coordinates into actual positions for the robot axes.
The Function Block also includes an intelligent acceleration monitor which provides online monitoring of the acceleration on the Tool Center Point (TCP) or the centrifugal force on the product in the robot's gripper. Precise TCP control allows rapid execution of moves involving exceptional dexterity such as picking and placing product from one moving belt to a container on another.
Reduced engineering and commissioning time costs
Users of ELAU’s robot software library have experienced significant time savings. For example engineering of multiple pick & place robots has been reduced by approximately 25%. Because the machine and robot control are so tightly integrated system performance can be improved in some instances by as much as 100%.
Access to all process variables simplifies engineering tasks as does ELAU’s modular IEC 61131-3 programming template and extensive Function Block library. Hardware wiring communications and electrical cabinet costs are likewise reduced by consolidation of machine robotic diagnostic data acquisition and discrete functions such as programmable limit switch and temperature control in a single controller.
ELAU equips over $1 billion worth of the world’s best machines annually with over 25 PacDrive systems already deployed in packaging machinery worldwide. PacDrive is the first truly integrated automation architecture capable of performing the functions of PLC motion control robotics temperature control PLS MES data interface and more in a single standards-based software environment.