Delta robotics without control cabinet

Machines and plants with decentralised automation – this vision is coming closer as Festo implements the CPX automation platform. The technology leader in electrical and pneumatic automation technology is now presenting a development project in which the CPX controls the delta kinematics.

Delta robotics without control cabinet: a development project from Festo enables this vision. (Photo credit: Festo AG & Co. KG)

Robotic controller with CPX

The development project comprising – different from the standard product – the high-speed handling system EXPT with CPX and the new “integrated drive” EMCA is now building on the trend. The robotic solution delivering more than 100 picks per minute with delta kinematics permits free movement in three dimensions. The CPX automation platform integrates the entire electropneumatic control chain via a Codesys controller: from the I/O signal and simple electrical and pneumatic movements through to transformation of the tripod models using automatic calibration. What makes this revolutionary is the robotic controller with CPX. Originally designed as a valve terminal with remote I/O, Festo is making a quantum leap with regard to decentralised automation in the machine. Thanks to protection to IP65/67, the controller and the tripod manage without a control cabinet for the first time ever.

 Also crucial for the development project are the electrical drives EMCA with integrated maintenance-free EC motors to IP54/65. The brushless DC motors with absolute position recording, integrated regulator, power electronics, absolute encoders – and the option of absolute multiturn encoders as well as integrated holding brakes and fieldbus interfaces – together with the CPX do away with the need for a control cabinet. 

High-speed handling system EXPT

The handling system EXPT is a standard product from Festo and characterised above all by a high dynamic response due to a low moving mass and high rigidity thanks to its pyramid-shaped, closed structure. The closed structure is created using three double rods, which ensure that the flange plate is always in a horizontal position. Axes and motors are fixed.

 The tripod kinematics take handling technology requirements such as short cycle times, dynamic response, function integration, fast plug and work, low acquisition and operating costs as well as faster time to market into account. The design of the tripod offers better accessibility in the working space than conventional Cartesian or Scara robots.

Virtual commissioning

The development project can be integrated into a plant as a virtual model. The first step is to create a virtual plant in a CIROS simulation. The CIROS simulation from Festo Didactic imports the tripod as a model from the CAD system and immediately processes the data further. The virtual components are then gradually replaced with real ones.

Using the CIROS software from Festo Didactic, the virtual behaviour model is created from the library and configured, and therefore serves as a substitute for the real system which has not yet been produced. This means that the controller can already be developed and tested for the entire plant. This improves the quality, reduces the commissioning time and is game-changing for Industry 4.0. In the future, AML (Automation Markup Language) as the data exchange format for Industry 4.0 will become the standard for these simulations. 

Equipped with virtual commissioning, OPC-UA interfaces for Industry 4.0 or the Internet of Things (IoT) and Codesys V3 Softmotion transformation models with automatic calibration, the EXPT with CPX/EMCA development project is opening the door wide for Industry 4.0.