Integrated Architecture Keeps Getting Smarter

March 28, 2017
Recent releases from Rockwell Automation focus on smart machines and smart devices. Full article brought to you by Rockwell Automation. Visit The Connected Enterprise for more.  

Linear motors and independent cart transport systems are an important area of focus for the Rockwell Automation development team, said Nathan Turner, director of product management, Motion Control Business, Rockwell Automation, in a tour of the Integrated Architecture exhibit at Automation Fair in Atlanta.

Turner showed off the company’s recently acquired MagneMotion intelligent cart conveying systems, which complements the company’s higher accuracy iTRAK system. Application-wise, the more precise iTRAK is intended for use within a machine for precise positioning, whereas MagneMotion serves as an intelligent conveyor system, delivering parts to machines or processes.

"In either system, each cart is independently moved by a linear motor system, and cart traffic is coordinated by a ControlLogix controller,” Turner said. “However, the MagneMotion system is programmed in a different way than iTRAK."

MagneMotion has what Turner calls “fire and forget.” To move a cart, “you just tell it to go to a location. The intelligent system takes care of the rest.” Programs to move and accumulate carts and prevent collisions are built. The system also knows and reports where each cart is, so tracking is possible. The carts can also be synchronized with a robot, allowing pick and place “on the fly,” Turner said.

MagneMotion also scales from small parts under 2-kg on one end, and up to 500-kg on the other. iTRAK, on the other hand, is limited to 100-kg loads. Pharmaceuticals and automotive are common applications, as the scalable systems works with pill bottles, car frames and even movable robots in welding applications. “It's like an erector set for the customer,” Turner said. “They buy the components and piece it together based on their needs.”

Smart devices and software control

Elsewhere in the booth, Paul Whitney, commercial program manager, Integrated Architecture, Rockwell Automation, pointed out some notable new “self-aware” devices and systems—smart devices that can react to changing situations or provide analytics, so the user can make smart decision in operations.

The recently introduced ControlLogix 5580 controllers, for example, includes a high-speed, 1-Gb Ethernet port, as does the company’s new 5069 Compact I/O. While the high-speed link speeds communication between the controller and I/O, "What makes the 5580 self-aware is its tuning capabilities,” Whitney said. “It uses single- or dual-axis modules for multi-axis servo drive applications and integrates motion on EtherNet/IP."

Self-awareness also extends to devices such as drives. "One of the first Rockwell Automation products to be truly self-aware is the Kinetix 5700 servo drive, new about a year ago," said Whitney. "With a machine there may be many axes, each taking a couple hours to tune. What's newly released is an adaptive tuning and tracking notch filter. It allows us to automatically tune and optimize the high and low frequency tuning. The tracking notch filter and load tracker automatically provide the optimum tuning for servo applications."

The tuning feature automatically compensates for changing loads. If a machine has a high axis count, the time savings are significant. It also adapts to changes due to mechanical wear. The drive is aware of how the application is responding and adapts as needed. It also provides consistent tuning across machines.

To speed up code development, Rockwell Automation added standardized code content to the Studio 5000 Application Code Manager application. Engineers can use the supplied content as a starting point to save time and standardize their systems. Content will initially include the Rockwell Automation library of process objects and machine builder libraries of control code, HMI faceplates, alarms, events and historian tags.

The company has also added another layer to the Studio 5000 Logix Designer application. In addition to username and password, its license-based content protection limits who can access, view or edit the controller code. It allows OEMs to better protect and control their intellectual property.

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