Machine Design Insights for OEMs and Automation Engineers

In the current manufacturing climate, the integration of automation capabilities into machine design is becoming a pressing concern. For an automation engineer working with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and machine builders, the task of enhancing machine designs with advanced automation technologies is challenging.

Balancing Machine Design

The field of automation and motion controls offers a diverse range of options, from nano programmable logic controllers to robotic motion controllers. This wide array of choices can be overwhelming, but it also presents opportunities for improving machine designs. The challenge lies in selecting the right components to ease the creation of machines that cater to customer needs. OEMs want to reduce time for commissioning new machines, debugging, and maintenance. They are looking for automation platforms that are flexible, but also help them grow.

Controllers provide flexibility to differentiate your machines.

The newest controllers offer machine builders a solid foundation but also creative freedom to differentiate. These controllers can run simple to complex machine architectures and integrate into large complicated systems. They help customers of all types and sizes achieve high productivity and efficient, scalable, and sustainable machine designs.

The software also helps OEMs grow and differentiate their business. The leading software solutions for machine builders use global automation standards and offer flexibility and scalability. The software has core functions but is not a black box that always does the same thing. This means OEMs do not need to create code from scratch with every new machine design. They can create custom libraries or use existing, tested, and validated libraries and functions. The software also allows any users to lock up intellectual property.

High performance robotic solutions with dynamic servo technology

Incorporating robotic solutions into machine design is gaining traction, particularly in segments like material handling, material working, and packaging. Options range from single axis to cartesian, delta, or SCARA robots, each offering distinct advantages. High-performance solutions, such as dynamic standalone servo drives, and integrated servo drives and motors can also enhance precision and efficiency by catering to diverse motion control requirements.

One innovative example is a new multi-carrier transport system that allows machine builders to design machines that are faster and more flexible but with a smaller footprint. The system uses the latest linear motion technology to move products individually through the machine. It allows end users to expand their throughput without expanding their footprint. They can do more without having to expand to another line, which might be impractical or expensive if they must go to a new or bigger building.

Digital twins to simulate new systems

The most innovative controllers include digital twin capabilities to reduce commissioning time and improve ease of implementation of systems. A digital twin is a powerful tool for helping machine builders advance their code optimisation, design validation, and problem solving. Importantly, the software runs real-time simulations of physical systems without having to wait for the building of the physical system.

For example, EcoStruxure Machine Expert software includes digital twin capabilities. It can run a virtual delta robotic system for pick-and-place with infeed conveyors or an MC12 system, by connecting with the robotics controller.

Software innovations bring technology together

End users want their OEMs to help them with a machine design that can push information to and from the shop floor. The latest software innovations do this by providing a single platform for many functions, including motion control and robotics/mechatronics.

The versatile software offers scalability and security for seamless integration with PLCs, nano-controllers, robotics controllers, and various networks and Ethernet protocols. Importantly, it benefits from timesaving derived from its pre-defined and validated templates. These templates empower users to apply extensive libraries or even introduce new machine modules to reduce engineering time.

The system goes a step further by automating regression testing, thereby shortening commissioning, and debugging periods. This automated testing ensures that the application functions without adverse effects on other features. Furthermore, the software establishes an open connection to third-party networks and fieldbuses, further enhancing its adaptability and compatibility.

Choosing the right partner

Another key point is that in the quest for innovation, a strategic partnership plays a pivotal role. Irrespective of where you stand in the machine builder spectrum, partnering with a company committed to automation and motion control is essential. A partner should offer not only existing solutions but also insights into future advancements and educational support.

When assessing potential partners, consider their capability to offer a comprehensive automation and motion solution portfolio, holistic software solutions, and a commitment to open connectivity with third-party networks. The right partner will provide close collaboration, prototype, and test novel ideas, and continue to refine offerings based on feedback.

 

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