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Logistically speaking the same language

06 November 2016

A food logistics application demanded a robot controller that was able to speak the same language as the plant’s legacy PLCs to allow the end user to have the best of both worlds – convenient programming and precision control. 

A collaboration between motion control and robotics company, YASKAWA and an intralogistics and packaging company has resulted in the development of an interesting automatic robot-based palletising cell. The food logistics system, developed by MPS Food Logistics Systems features a Profinet interface which enables the Motoman robotic system from Yaskawa to be programmed and operated via Siemens TIA (Totally Integrated Automation) portal. 

MPS develops a range of complex bespoke packaging and turnkey logistics systems for ist food manufacturer customers. Its focus is very much on utilising the latest technical developments to provide logistic solutions 
MPS received an enquiry from a meat processing company in Germany which was looking for a robotic cell for palletising packed meats at the end of a packaging line. The challenge was that the customer wanted to integrate the robot into its existing PLC environment. Specifically, the application required that the robot should be able to be programmed and controlled directly via the Siemens TIA portal without having to pass through the robot controller first. This rrequirement breaks with tradition which has required, robots and machine controllers to be programmed, operated and serviced separately from each another.

MPS worked with Yaskawa to come up with a solution utilising The MotoLogix interface from Yokogawa. MotoLogix is a quick and easy way for Motoman robots to be programmed and controlled via the PLC in the IEC-61131 environment. At present, as well as Profinet, the Ethernet/IP and Powerlink platforms are also approved for Siemens environments.  "This solution means that You don't need an advanced knowledge of robotics and it makes the commissioning stage more effective," said Erik van den Beld, engineering manager at MPS.

Integration into the PLC
Integration into the PLC means that all of the advantages of the robot controller are preserved. The robot controller calculates the movement kinematics, guarantees high-quality movement 

Erik van Beld adn theMDS engineerign team chose a model from the Yaskawa MH series of robots which are flexible, six-axis high-speed robots that are suited to a range of applications including handling, machine feeding, processing and distribution applications for loads ranging from 3 to 600 kg. 

A newly developed vibration control system exploits the increased axial speed and inherent rigidity of the gears and enables good acceleration with short movements. The reduced cycle times also increase productivity.

In this particular application the robot operates with the current Motoman DX 200 generation of controllers, which supports MotoLogix while the integrated safety controller makes this controller a category 3 functional safety unit (FSU). With up to 32 definable safety zones and 16 possible tools, it facilitates smaller work areas and optimum utilisation of available production space.

By using the MotoLogix interface generation with its Profinet capability, MPS Food Logistic Systems has enabled a palletising robot to be integrated directly into the Siemens automation environment. The benefits of the two systems are now combined – the convenient programming of robots directly via the PLC and the high level of precision offered by the robot controller. This makes it possible to program the robot in the IEC-61131 environment and to integrate them in corresponding systems.

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