Selecting and Integrating Your Perfect Automation System
When there is no predicate solution or off-the-shelf product that can fully support your manufacturing processes, AC engineers are ready to identify, design, and integrate a high-quality, custom system. No challenge is too complex. Tap our technical expertise in complex automation, precision vision, advanced motion control, and more.
Robotics Integration: Transforming Manufacturing Operations with Robotics
Are you looking to transform your manufacturing operation? With so many powerful robotic platforms and types, you might find it difficult to know which robot is right for your application. AC experts can help you choose the right solution for a seamless integration with maximum value and return on your investment.
Vision Systems: Leveling Up Quality Inspection
Vision and machine learning technology is changing at a rapid pace. AC investigates new vision technologies and capabilities to stay on the cutting edge of what is possible.
Motion Control: Programming Ultra-Precise Placement with Precision
With so many ever-improving machine and motion control options, it can be challenging to choose the right fit for your application and also plan for scalability. AC’s robust cross-platform base code enables us to deploy solutions quickly and streamline the transition between controls platforms. We can help you navigate supply chain turbulence and changing market conditions to develop a scalable ramp plan.
AC expert controls engineers help you evaluate your options and guide your decision when selecting the right platform and architecture. Once a platform is selected, our controls engineering team provides programming support through full turnkey integration or embedded engineers through AC’s Integrated Engineering Team (IET) service.
Our goal is a tailor-made solution that can be owned, operated, and maintained by your team so you can take the next step in your technological journey.
Let AC be your expert partner in determining the right-fit solution for your specific needs, agnostic of brand or platform.
Sessions with AC Presenters from ATX West
Robotics, Motion, & Vision Integrator Transcription:
Part of what I want to do is talk about specification development. Starting off by talking about requirements and specifications for automation. The importance of generating a good requirement specification can’t be often referred to as URS can’t be overstated. This upfront work sets expectations between the user and the supplier. A requirement specification identifies what needs to be done, but not necessarily how. Once this specification is established, it’s time to select components and techniques that meet or exceed the requirements.
Answering some simple questions is the next step. How will components be introduced to the system? Will they come in bulk, trays, tape fed, or operator-loaded? How will components be moved through the system? Possibilities there are a dial, a walking beam, palletized conveyor, linear motor conveyance systems, and planar motor systems, and here at the show, you’ll see vendors that are selling all of the things that I’m talking about, and as a systems integrator we’ll pick the best components for your job and integrate them into a successful system.
How will the completed components be removed from the system? Next, which feeding techniques best match the application requirements. Bulk feeding can be done with bowl feeders and centrifugal feeders. Those are suitable for many components. Tape and reel feeders are suitable for delicate or small components often that are difficult to orient, and they’ll be pre-oriented as they come into the system on a tape and reel feed. Flex feeders are being used more often in the industry, and they have the potential for many different components to be hopper-fed onto a backlit plane. Machine vision will locate those so that they can be robotically picked and assembled into the system. And finally, bin picking. It’s a newly invigorated area brought about by lighting, sensors, and software advances. Bin Picking is now a viable alternative for part feeding and many types of components.
What component motion techniques are needed in the system? And there’s a range of these components sold by many people here at the show today. Cam-driven automation, it’s suitable for extremely fast and precise automation. Throughput is needed to justify the cost because they’re quite expensive. It’s not particularly flexible. You’ll have to cut metal if you need to change your product. You can’t change it in the software. But, if you have a long product cycle and high volumes, it’s a good choice, and it’s typically used in systems that need to produce parts on the order of one part a second or faster.
On the other end of the spectrum are pneumatically actuated systems where we use pneumatic actuators to pick and place. Those are for lower volume systems, with cycle times in the 5 to 10-second range. You’ll also see linear servo actuators that are fast, offer much flexibility, and, finally, robotic material handling.
Robots these days are a go-to low-cost option for automation. Oftentimes the cost of a robot is less than a simple pneumatic pick-and-play system and more flexible because of its software basis. In addition, the robot controller can sometimes control the entire work cell. So that you don’t need to have a PLC or other type of control in the work cell.
What sensing techniques are needed to meet the requirements of the system? Discrete sensors such as pneumatic, displacement, pressure, pH, and then their machine vision sensors where camera lighting and optics are used to guide motion systems, defect detection, and code reading.
And finally, 3D scanning systems. These allow an additional dimension to traditional cameras. The third dimension might be temperature, as in an IR camera, or displacement, where we measure the Z displacement of an object in addition to the two-dimensional image.
And last, what control system best fits your requirements? Classic PLCs are fast, flexible, and have a large support base. However, proprietary platforms are experiencing recent supply chain issues, and so we’re guiding many of our customers away from those who are possible. There are soft PLC implementations, which are fast, flexible, and growing.
Andrews Cooper is actively developing CODESYS platforms with great success. It’s scalable from Raspberry Pi-based modules and industrialized Raspberry Pi-based modules to high-end PC implementations. CODESYS supports the IEC standard PLC languages. The programming standard also supports Python, C++, and other high-level languages. There are many questions to be answered relative to your specification. Andrew’s Cooper will help you answer those questions and follow through with designing, building, and implementing automation that meets your requirements.