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Robotics integrates with vision, motion and PLC in single platform

A delta robot solution that is no more difficult to integrate into your system than any other standard automation component? Mark Simms takes a look at the latest part of Omron's innovative Sysmac platform.

These days machine builders who develop machines for the packaging industry are facing ever increasing challenges to provide designs that will boost productivity, with higher speeds and higher productivity. But this cannot come at the expense of increased complexity. Traditionally, robot solutions have addressed one part of the equation, but not the other, often requiring specialist integration support and specialist programming knowledge.

Omron has long offered SCARA robots for loads up to 50kg, with a choice of more than 70 models, but now the company has introduced a delta robot range, promising pick and place cycle times of 200 cycles per minute for loads up to 2kg - ideal for a host of applications within the packaging industry. Importantly, these delta robots have been developed as part of Omron's Sysmac platform, seamlessly integrating robotics with motion, PLCs and vision. That means you can program all the important parts of your machine from a single software environment.

Two models of delta robot are currently available to match different reach and load capacity requirements. The delta robot arms use Omron's G5 servo motors to reduce settling times. Omron says that a high frequency response of 2kHz makes these high end servo motors ideal for delta robot positioning tasks.

The combination of high performance servo motors with the kinematics of delta robots allows maximum throughput to be achieved in pick and place applications. The Sysmac NJ delta controller enables up to eight delta robots to be used, and can synchronise up to 64 axes of motion, keeping control of all the motion devices in the machine. The synchronisation of multiple conveyors can be fully programmed thanks to a powerful command set developed especially for pick and place applications that use delta robots. Programming is to IEC 61131-3 standards, and is carried out within the Sysmac Studio software package - the same package you'll use to program all your other Sysmac components. The software includes a comprehensive robotics library to make it simple to set up sophisticated robot motion profiles. Integration with other Sysmac components is via on-board EtherCAT, with an EtherNet/IP port also included for communications with higher level systems.

The integration with vision is important, taking robotics to a whole new level. Adding Omron's recently launched FQ-M vision sensor into the equation gives the delta robots the sight they need to deliver the high speed, high accuracy pick and place operations that the packaging industry requires. The FQ-M has been specifically designed for pick and place applications, and combines high speed with simple set-up. Integrating seamlessly with the Omron automation architecture, the FQ-M vision sensor implements new algorithms that are able to detect the positions of multiple pieces in the field of view in a very short time - a maximum processing rate of 5000 pieces per minute, even with full 360° rotation.

Not only does this package address machine builder requirements for increased productivity and increased accuracy, with assured ease of programming, it also delivers reduced cabling time and improved access to vital information, since all component networking is carried out over EtherCAT. At the same time, since Omron can offer a complete automation suite within a single platform, machine builders can benefit from a reduced vendor base, simplifying ordering, integration and support. Omron argues that it's a far easier and lower risk option than trying to integrate equipment from multiple suppliers.
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