Modular industrial robotics: New kinematic simplicity for plant engineers

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Now a completely modular and easy-to-program robotics know-how lets engineers and different plant personnel rapidly choose and join kinematic modules to create industrial robotic arms.


Sponsored content material ⚙️ Conventional six-axis serial robotics and selective compliance meeting robotic arms (SCARAs) have prebuilt buildings and rigidly outlined motions and levels of freedom (DOFs). In distinction, now a wholly new collection of field-assemblable robots is each programmatically and bodily configurable (and reconfigurable) by engineers and plant employees alike. Known as Automation Technology for Robotics or ATRO, every accomplished meeting consists of a base module and a novel mixture of different modules (every acknowledged as separate EtherCAT units by controls) to make functioning robotic tables, arms, or delta assemblies.

The Automation Know-how for Robotics (ATRO) from Beckhoff Automation is a versatile and absolutely built-in multi-axis system that helps speedy robotic meeting and programming. The truth is, ATRO enhances different applied sciences within the movement provider’s New Automation Know-how product vary — together with PC-based management, industrial PCs, automation controllers, operator interfaces, I/O, servo drives, and motors.

Extra particularly, ATRO kinematics are constructed of modules from 4 classes.

ATRO base modules (the primary upon which different modules are stacked) embody a ruggedized base with mounting flanges, energy and networking connectivity ports, and an output media feed that begins the interior run of media by means of the meeting’s inside to permit limitless joint rotations. (Extra on this shortly.)

Lively motorized modules are open-ended arm sections containing a planetary gearmotor, brake, servodrive, and management electronics in a ruggedized cylindrical housing. Ends are threaded and studded with mechanical locking Hirth joints to rapidly safe to different modules within the collection.

These subsystems are available quite a lot of diameters, lengths, and shapes; each straight I-shape and angled L-shape motorized modules are available 5 energy sizes. As a result of every energetic module types a whole drive system for one robotic axis, the one exterior parts wanted are an influence provide and controller. It’s a construction that considerably reduces the quantity of control-cabinet actual property consumed by {hardware} to command the robotic’s DOFs.

After programming, ATRO robotics use EtherCAT for direct integration into PC-based controls for routinely optimized workcells. The truth is, one industrial PC can command a number of ATRO robots. In addition to simplifying set up, that may additionally trim price.

Connection or linkage modules are available I, L, and Y shapes and permit additional customization of the robotic morphology. That includes the identical ruggedized housings and mechanical end-connection geometries because the ATRO system’s motorized modules, these function the movable joints of ATRO assemblies.

Lastly, user-specified system modules combine application-specific gripping or different end-effector capabilities. With these core module choices, an unlimited array of robotics is feasible, together with:

• Single-axis rotary indexing tables and two-axis trackers
• Three-axis delta robots (with supporting {hardware}) and four-axis pick-and-place robots
• 5-axis palletizing arms
• Six-axis serial arms
• Seven-axis robotics able to specialty articulation for machine tending and related duties necessitating extension into hard-to-reach areas inside equipment.

In some instances, the automation resolution’s mechanics and half depend could be diminished. ATRO’s extraordinarily versatile construction lets it fulfill quite a lot of purposes — even these involving payloads to 10 kg and reaches to 1.3 m.

ATRO techniques from Beckhoff adapt to duties needing multi-axis movement. They’re additionally freely scalable, customizable, and expandable.

Programming and controlling ATRO robots

ATRO options EtherCAT connectivity that enhances the way in which through which the robotic modules are commissioned and programmed through TwinCAT software program. The latter includes a huge mannequin library to assist normal in addition to customized industrial kinematics for simpler integration of robotic handlers into machine workcells. In distinction, conventional off-the-shelf SCARA and stuck serial robots are hardly ever an ideal match for pre-existing or finalized workcell components … thus complicating the setup of real-world purposes.

The ATRO interface inside TwinCAT helps 3D simulation of single robots to let finish customers construct robots themselves utilizing the bottom, energetic, and linkage modules simply described. From there, digital workpieces, trays, tables, baskets, machine entry home windows, imported machine CAD recordsdata, and obstacles (comparable to pillars, partitions, and workcell fencing) within the TwinCAT GUI could be modeled to let the consumer outline how the robotic ought to work together with or keep away from them.

Decide, flip, place, and myriad different strikes could be set within the desired sequence after which exported.

As soon as the controller receives the exported file, it builds your entire PLC code. Then customers merely log into the controller through the GUI and click on an allow button to run the robotic by means of its motions. Coordination with superior conveying techniques and even levitating motor installations is feasible, as are expansive configurations with as many as 16 ATRO robots.

Constructions are merely scanned by the management software program, and the TwinCAT robotic capabilities routinely create the corresponding management software — together with a digital twin. (The place wanted, the digital twin inside TwinCAT can outline stresses on ATRO’s mechanical parts.) In-the-field instructing of ATRO techniques is equally straightforward; customers merely seize the robotic, transfer its linked modules by means of desired positions, and set the trail and factors through a linked HMI.

To be clear, customers with totally different skillsets can select from three programming choices — fundamental routines (for handbook robotic instructing), reasonably refined routines (for customers who really feel comfy constructing, importing, and defining machine components), and superior routines for TwinCAT specialists with proficiency in 3D simulation, coding operations, and line-by-line tweaking of routinely generated programming (as IEC 61131-3 structured textual content, ladder logic, or function-block diagrams — FBDs).

Bodily system connections and communications

ATRO’s tight TwinCAT integration permits management of a number of robots through one controller. Even machine-vision picture processing, machine studying, purposeful security, and direct cloud integration (to assist enterprise-level evaluation and predictive upkeep routines) are potential. Synchronization of ATRO techniques with XTS and XPlanar adaptive product dealing with techniques inside this widespread atmosphere minimizes communication delays. As talked about, ATRO techniques can even endlessly rotate at every joint. That’s resulting from:

The gearmotor design in energetic modules
Multi-turn servo-axis monitoring of place
Routing of energy, communications, and different fluid media by means of the middle of every robotic module through rotary unions and Hirth joints.

The latter is especially considerably distinctive — particularly as connections embody 4 for compressed air, vacuums, water, and different fluids; EtherCAT and Gbit Ethernet; and 48-V in addition to high-voltage AC energy. All these connections render the ATRO able to accepting varied distributors’ finish effectors and grippers (whether or not electromagnetic or pneumatic) which by definition are exceptionally job particular.

The place would possibly limitless joint rotation show helpful? Properly, this offers ATRO techniques most reachability in addition to the power to take particularly quick (learn: quick) paths to achieve given positions in 3D house. What’s extra, it eliminates the bulkiness of cables run alongside the robotic’s exterior in addition to interfering torques so widespread in robots and collaborative robots (cobots).

The usage of EtherCAT-standard LED communications (within the type of illuminated bands on each ATRO module) supplies native diagnostics data. A module glowing blue signifies the ATRO is in instructing mode. Inexperienced signifies the module has a dependable connection and is able to function. Yellow signifies that an operation is being processed; crimson signifies the presence of a difficulty.

What prompted ATRO improvement — and rising purposes

ATRO satisfies a necessity for easy-to-assemble customized machine-tending choices, particularly these requiring arms able to reaching round obstacles inside giant gear. Its customizable kinematics can even deal with variable payloads and execute significantly sophisticated motions. Take into account an software from the machine-tool business — that of milling. Right here, ATRO controls can nimbly interpolate the movement wanted from the top effector to understand, orient, and cargo workpieces into the machine … after which nimbly reverse the method as soon as milling is full.

Although ATRO techniques aren’t but licensed to be used as cobots, they do embody 17 totally different drive-based security modes, together with restricted pace and secure acceleration settings. The primary cutting-edge ATRO permutations have taken the type of so-called octo-robots for superior meeting and materials dealing with purposes.

Beckhoff ATRO robotics are appropriate to be used in intralogistics, materials dealing with, fabrication, medical meeting, and packaging purposes.

Beckhoff Automation | www.beckhoff.com

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