AT, IT convergence becomes focal point

Among a host of themes, the ongoing convergence of automation technology (AT) and IT, and how packagers and machine builders can benefit from this convergence, shines through at Beckhoff.

Pw 309662 Beckhoff Packexpo 2017

Beckhoff Automation, booth S-6302, is focusing on the convergence of automation technology (AT) and IT during this year’s PACK EXPO. The comprehensive Beckhoff system architecture for packaging machine automation promotes control hardware consolidation by advancing PC-based control technology.

This approach takes the best from AT and IT, according to the company, making the most powerful tools available to engineering teams in one universal environment. All the benefits from the early days of this effort remain from the integration of PLC, motion control, and HMI, while adding other high-value functions for robotics, safety, high-end measurement, condition monitoring, and of course, cloud connectivity and IoT.

Visitors are able to “BYOD” (bring your own device), and can use their own smartphones and tablets to connect with PC-based control demos – including a wall of IoT-enabled devices, plus articulated robot arms from Stäubli – using any mobile device with a web browser. Cloud connectivity will be a connecting thread throughout the Beckhoff booth and in machine builder booths, such as groninger USA (N-107).

Additional Smart Factory solutions factor heavily throughout the Beckhoff booth, such as One Cable Automation via EtherCAT P, which integrates the previously separate power and signal lines into a single, standard 4-wire Ethernet cable. The latest motor and drive solutions with One Cable Technology (OCT) will also be shown in the form of demos and test stands for hands-on evaluation.

Another highlight will be TwinCAT HMI, an exciting new HMI software platform from Beckhoff for visualizations that can dynamically scale to suit the screen formats of industrial displays and any mobile device with a web browser. Based on leading web technologies such as HTML5 and JavaScript, TwinCAT HMI allows the user to develop platform-independent user interfaces that are “responsive,” meaning they automatically adapt to the screen resolution, size and orientation of the device at hand. With the graphical WYSIWYG (what-you-see-is-what-you-get) editor, controls can be easily arranged via drag-and-drop and linked with real-time variables. TwinCAT HMI is extensible on all levels, the company says. Mixing standard controls with custom design elements makes designing your own dynamic, mobile-ready HMI easy.

Other focus areas at the Beckhoff booth include cloud connectivity in automation to optimize packaging operations; high-end measurement technology that’s ultra-precise, fast and robust; and an introduction to the smallest industrial PC from Beckhoff.

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