Mechatronics: Electromechanical manufacturing systems

A tightly integrated mechatronic system can reduce the machine footprint, shorten programming time, and eliminate dedicated hardware controllers.

05/13/2013


Beckhoff Automation showed its XTS (eXtended Transport System), an example of mechatronics design, at PackExpo, in Chicago, October 2012. CFE Media image by Mark T. HoskeAutomation architectures can use one controller, one network, and one software platform across one system architecture. Such a design can integrate a programmable logic controller (PLC), motion control, safety, communications, and robotics on an industrial PC (IPC) or embedded PC. With this approach, users can replace multiple expensive controllers and “black box” hardware with a more powerful centralized system. For machine and robot builders, this means engineering cost savings with process optimizations, and a significantly smaller footprint on the plant floor.

A key driving force for a unified architecture is a modern multi-core processor technology. As multi-core technology progresses, so too does the capability to add even more functionality. The rise of more integrated automation systems has also produced some very interesting innovations in the area of mechatronics.

Mechatronics demonstration

A modular linear drive that serves as a motion control system is exactly the kind of mechatronic advancement that takes full advantage of more powerful PC-based controllers and one architecture. A machine equipped with such a motion control system would leverage one standard controls architecture (PC-based control), one software platform, and one industrial Ethernet network.

By combining linear motor technology on a continuous motion track with straight and curved track segments, a machine designer can configure topologies that suit numerous applications. Typically, a linear motion system has a linear magnetic track and one active carrier. Motion is constrained to back-and-forth actions on one plane. A modular track, on the other hand, is like an inverse linear motor and is specially engineered for multiple carriers. The track contains the active coils and encoding, while each mover is composed of a passive set of magnets with encoder flag and roller wheels. The simple design delivers outstanding performance. Mechanically driven continuous motion, such as from belts or chains, is out-performed by the modular linear motion system since each mover’s position is controlled individually and can be adjusted with great precision on the fly. Movers can have positioning accuracies of +/-25 µm at 1.5 m/s and a positioning repeatability of less than 10 µm at mover standstill.

Control software can abstract complex underlying control principles, to enable a controls engineer to program against the movers’ absolute position. This means movers are positioned using the same software function blocks as traditional rotary axes. Complex motion tasks are relatively easy to implement, such as electronic gearing and computer-aided motion (CAM) tables between movers or between the movers and external axes like those found on conveyors.

Integrated motion, robotics

Circling back to robotics, it is also possible to pair a full robot system with the mover solution and have the automation software run on one industrial PC. This was demonstrated at Hannover Fair 2013, integrating a delta-style robot performing pick-and-place actions coordinated with the movers at high speed. This PC-based mechatronics approach can streamline automation systems for assembly and material handling applications.

Overall, such a mover system represents a highly efficient way for machine builders and manufacturers to integrate a high-performance mechatronic solution into designs that leverage the same controller, the same software environment, and the same network as the other automation and controls equipment on the machine. A tightly integrated mechatronic system can go a long way for engineers to reduce the machine footprint, shorten programming time, and eliminate dedicated hardware controllers.

- Matt Lecheler is motion specialist at Beckhoff Automation. Edited by Mark T. Hoske, content manager, CFE Media, Control Engineering, mhoske@cfemedia.com.

ONLINE

Read "Products use mechatronic design for manufacturing systems" below.

www.beckhoffautomation.com/xts 

Beckhoff Automation YouTube video of the XTS at 2013 Hannover Fair (about 30 sec into the video)



The Engineers' Choice Awards highlight some of the best new control, instrumentation and automation products as chosen by Control Engineering subscribers. Vote now (if qualified)!
The System Integrator Giants program lists the top 100 system integrators among companies listed in CFE Media's Global System Integrator Database.
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
This eGuide illustrates solutions, applications and benefits of machine vision systems.
Learn how to increase device reliability in harsh environments and decrease unplanned system downtime.
This eGuide contains a series of articles and videos that considers theoretical and practical; immediate needs and a look into the future.
Maximize ROI with integrated control system approach; Microcontrollers vs. PLCs; Power quality; Accelerate and rewire IIoT; Traits for excellent engineers
HMI effectiveness; Distributed I/O; Engineers' Choice Award finalists; System Integrator advice; Inside Machines
Women in engineering; Engineering Leaders Under 40; PID benefits and drawbacks; Ladder logic; Cloud computing
Programmable logic controllers (PLCs) represent the logic (decision) part of the control loop of sense, decide, and actuate. As we know, PLCs aren’t the only option for making decisions in a control loop, but they are likely why you’re here.
This digital report explains how plant engineers and subject matter experts (SME) need support for time series data and its many challenges.
This article collection contains several articles on how advancements in vision system designs, computing power, algorithms, optics, and communications are making machine vision more cost effective than ever before.

Find and connect with the most suitable service provider for your unique application. Start searching the Global System Integrator Database Now!

Control room technology innovation; Practical approaches to corrosion protection; Pipeline regulator revises quality programs
Cloud, mobility, and remote operations; SCADA and contextual mobility; Custom UPS empowering a secure pipeline
Infrastructure for natural gas expansion; Artificial lift methods; Disruptive technology and fugitive gas emissions
Automation Engineer; Wood Group
System Integrator; Cross Integrated Systems Group
Jose S. Vasquez, Jr.
Fire & Life Safety Engineer; Technip USA Inc.
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
The Engineers' Choice Awards highlight some of the best new control, instrumentation and automation products as chosen by Control Engineering subscribers. Vote now (if qualified)!
The System Integrator Giants program lists the top 100 system integrators among companies listed in CFE Media's Global System Integrator Database.
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
This eGuide illustrates solutions, applications and benefits of machine vision systems.
Learn how to increase device reliability in harsh environments and decrease unplanned system downtime.
This eGuide contains a series of articles and videos that considers theoretical and practical; immediate needs and a look into the future.
Maximize ROI with integrated control system approach; Microcontrollers vs. PLCs; Power quality; Accelerate and rewire IIoT; Traits for excellent engineers
HMI effectiveness; Distributed I/O; Engineers' Choice Award finalists; System Integrator advice; Inside Machines
Women in engineering; Engineering Leaders Under 40; PID benefits and drawbacks; Ladder logic; Cloud computing
Programmable logic controllers (PLCs) represent the logic (decision) part of the control loop of sense, decide, and actuate. As we know, PLCs aren’t the only option for making decisions in a control loop, but they are likely why you’re here.
This digital report explains how plant engineers and subject matter experts (SME) need support for time series data and its many challenges.
This article collection contains several articles on how advancements in vision system designs, computing power, algorithms, optics, and communications are making machine vision more cost effective than ever before.

Find and connect with the most suitable service provider for your unique application. Start searching the Global System Integrator Database Now!

Control room technology innovation; Practical approaches to corrosion protection; Pipeline regulator revises quality programs
Cloud, mobility, and remote operations; SCADA and contextual mobility; Custom UPS empowering a secure pipeline
Infrastructure for natural gas expansion; Artificial lift methods; Disruptive technology and fugitive gas emissions
Automation Engineer; Wood Group
System Integrator; Cross Integrated Systems Group
Jose S. Vasquez, Jr.
Fire & Life Safety Engineer; Technip USA Inc.
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
The Engineers' Choice Awards highlight some of the best new control, instrumentation and automation products as chosen by Control Engineering subscribers. Vote now (if qualified)!
The System Integrator Giants program lists the top 100 system integrators among companies listed in CFE Media's Global System Integrator Database.
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
This eGuide illustrates solutions, applications and benefits of machine vision systems.
Learn how to increase device reliability in harsh environments and decrease unplanned system downtime.
This eGuide contains a series of articles and videos that considers theoretical and practical; immediate needs and a look into the future.
Maximize ROI with integrated control system approach; Microcontrollers vs. PLCs; Power quality; Accelerate and rewire IIoT; Traits for excellent engineers
HMI effectiveness; Distributed I/O; Engineers' Choice Award finalists; System Integrator advice; Inside Machines
Women in engineering; Engineering Leaders Under 40; PID benefits and drawbacks; Ladder logic; Cloud computing
Programmable logic controllers (PLCs) represent the logic (decision) part of the control loop of sense, decide, and actuate. As we know, PLCs aren’t the only option for making decisions in a control loop, but they are likely why you’re here.
This digital report explains how plant engineers and subject matter experts (SME) need support for time series data and its many challenges.
This article collection contains several articles on how advancements in vision system designs, computing power, algorithms, optics, and communications are making machine vision more cost effective than ever before.

Find and connect with the most suitable service provider for your unique application. Start searching the Global System Integrator Database Now!

Control room technology innovation; Practical approaches to corrosion protection; Pipeline regulator revises quality programs
Cloud, mobility, and remote operations; SCADA and contextual mobility; Custom UPS empowering a secure pipeline
Infrastructure for natural gas expansion; Artificial lift methods; Disruptive technology and fugitive gas emissions
Automation Engineer; Wood Group
System Integrator; Cross Integrated Systems Group
Jose S. Vasquez, Jr.
Fire & Life Safety Engineer; Technip USA Inc.
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
click me