ProMat 2023: Motion control platform, UNIX virtualization, rugged distributed control
A sampling of exhibits at ProMat 2023 show advances in automation and control help warehousing, distribution centers and other motion control applications, including offerings from Beckhoff Automation.
- Beckhoff Automation XPlanar motion control platform demonstrates applications appropriate for small-scale mobile robots.
- Virtualization software can work on industrial UNIX or Microsoft Windows using Beckhoff Automation TwinCAT software platform.
- A distributed machine control platform without enclosures, the Beckhoff MX System, is under development by Beckhoff Automation and expected to be released in 2024.
Warehousing, distribution center insights
- Beckhoff Automation XPlanar motion control platform demonstrated applications appropriate for small-scale mobile robots using projected video at ProMat 2023.
- Beckhoff Automation TwinCAT software platform can be used for virtualization software using industrial UNIX or Microsoft Windows architectures, as explained at ProMat 2023.
- Beckhoff MX System, a distributed machine control platform without enclosures, is under development by Beckhoff Automation and expected to be released in 2024.
While ProMat 2023 exhibits focused on technologies useful for distribution centers and warehouses, the industrial computing, automation and motion control products shown at the Beckhoff Automation booth could be used in many manufacturing and other industrial applications. ProMat 2023, March 20-23, in Chicago, was organized by MHI.
Beckhoff XPlanar motion control platform
Beckhoff Automation enhanced its demonstration of the Beckhoff XPlanar advanced motion control platform by projecting videos onto the movers and tile base (photos) to show different applications and how floating movers could be applied for micro-fulfillment and other applications.
Described as a smaller-scale automated guided vehicle, the movers can operate individually, in pairs or in groups to handle larger loads. XPlanar has no mechanical parts, covers a small footprint, can be programmed with Beckhoff TwinCAT software and is being integrated by machine builders and others, in undisclosed applications. So far, custom machine builder applications account for about 60%, and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) account for about 40% of XPlanar use.
Each XPlanar mover can transport 400 g (about 9 lb). Mover routes and mover motions on the base can change on the fly (video clip). Movers also can precisely swirl and mix liquids they carry in a controlled manner.
Virtualization software, industrial UNIX or Microsoft Windows
TwinCAT/BSD, a UNIX-based version of Beckhoff Automation programming and control platform, extends TwinCAT software beyond Microsoft Windows. (photo) Hypervisor virtualization software can run on TwinCAT UNIX or Microsoft Windows in virtual machine architectures. Such configurations make it easier for IT to run updates of Microsoft Windows software applications while avoiding disturbance to run-time applications for operations. Multiple controllers and higher-level applications could run in one piece of computing hardware. Many configurations and silicon combinations, speed and computing cores provide a wide range of computing power, all programmable with Beckhoff TwinCAT software.
Distributed machine control without enclosures
Under development for release in mid-2024, the Beckhoff MX System, a rugged, industrial cabinet-less machine control platform, (photo) provides modular, integrated, hot-swappable control system components: Controllers, I/O modules, communications and power supplies. The MX System, also programmable with Beckhoff TwinCAT software, is designed to operate outside of control cabinets in stand-alone configurations and/or could extend control capabilities inside existing control enclosures.
Other coverage from ProMat includes Control Engineering articles on intralogistics, warehouse robotics advancements, mobile robot software management.
Mark T. Hoske is content manager, Control Engineering, CFE Media and Technology, firstname.lastname@example.org.
KEYWORDS: Small-scale mobile robots, virtualization, distributed machine control
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