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Conveying systems move towards Industry 4.0

13 May 2019

An innovative drive solution looks set to make conveying systems suitable for integration into Industry 4.0 operations. 

As automation becomes more commonplace, so is the need for more intelligent goods flow control in conveyor systems. Users are now demanding more than just high throughputs or versatility in terms of the goods to be transported. 

With a view to meeting the demands of the smarter factory, Interroll has developed the DC Platform, a technology platform that aims to fulfill changing requirement for  material flow. With the company’s range of coordinated RollerDrive products, control systems and power supply elements which together enable system integrators and plant constructors to provide more customised, individual solutions with Industry 4.0 functionality, where required. 

Commenting on the solution Armin Lindholm, managing director of Interroll’s global Center of Excellence for rollers and RollerDrive, said: "The creation of DC Platform enables our customers to deal with their customers’ requirements in a more individual manner. The new platform can be used to create a range of conveying solutions – from autonomous conveyors that can be commissioned without a PLC using plug-and-play, all the way to tailor-made, high-performance systems that can be consistently and transparently integrated into the data universe of Industry 4.0 applications for the purpose of monitoring in control stations, for preventive maintenance or for other functions."

Benefits of 48 V technology 
The new modular platform makes it possible to design conveying systems in both 24 V and 48 V versions. With this step, Interroll is driving the technical evolution of protective low-voltage solutions led automotive manufacturers. 48 V systems enable the use of up to 50% fewer power supply elements than in 24 V systems. They enable the use of smaller wire cross-sections and longer wire lengths, and reduce the number of error sources, for instance as a result of voltage drops on the wires. This can significantly reduce the investment required in the entire system and also reduces the risk of errors during commissioning.

However, the DC Platform is not just about more choice when it comes to the voltage. The new RollerDrive EC5000 is also said to offer greater flexibility in terms of mechanical output power. The new motor rollers are available in 20W, 35W and 50W versions that can take on any transport tasks for light or heavy goods. 

To support the implementation of conveyor solutions for heavy goods, Interroll offers the 50W power option as well as a RollerDrive version with tubes measuring 60mm in diameter instead of 50mm. Importantly for the food industry, these are also available on the IP66 and Deep Freeze design options, enabling RollerDrive solutions to be implemented even in areas that are cleaned using powerful water jets or that reach temperatures as low as -30°C.

Opening the door to Industry 4.0 
Alongside the tried-and-tested analogue interface, the RollerDrive EC5000 can now also be supplied with a bus interface based on the CANOpen standard. This enables conveying systems to offer data transparency. In combination with an Interroll control system with multi-protocol capability (PROFINET, EtherNet/IP and EtherCat), users are able to visualise a range of information and functions on the screen using the PLC or a web interface in real-time. It is possible to display general information about the current operating state and the operating load of the individual drives over time. In parallel, the control systems enable a range of detailed information such as precise error statuses, torque or temperature, for example, to be read out for each individual drive. 

The addition of the bus interface to RollerDrive also allows users to carry out completely control functions that are required in automated environments. As a result, users are able to more precisely control the acceleration, speed and deceleration of the conveyed goods in the system. This solution also allows them to position the relevant goods on the conveyor to the nearest millimetre – an important requirement to ensure seamless conveying interplay between the conveyor solution and robots or automated gripper arms.

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