One for all: Motion logic control for robots too

How can robots be integrated into the familiar automation world that we know in order to simplify engineering? Very easily. With a highly-connective motion logic control (MLC) that speaks, translates and standardizes the robot’s language. This reduces not only the cost of packaging and production machines, but also their time-to-market.

Each robot system has its own controller, its own language, and its own vision system. But is the resulting overhead for the engineering always justified? About 80 to 90 percent of applications in the packaging, electronics and manufacturing industries can be mapped with sufficient performance and integrated robotic functions via a motion logic control (MLC). As a result, the cost of programming, training and support decreases, thereby reducing the investment costs and shortening the time-to-market.


12 Delta kinematics with MLC

Delta robots are especially popular in the packaging industry. They are very flexible and can share a common workspace. The new top-loading system from the Italian packaging machine manufacturer CAMA proves that even 12 Deltas can be controlled and synchronized using two networked MLCs. On each of two parallel tracks, six robots of type RB588 take unpackaged products from the conveyor belt. An integrated anti-collision system ensures super-quick, conflict-free pick & place operation. Thanks to the IndraMotion MLC control platform from Rexroth manufacturers such as CAMA benefit from a uniform development environment for robotics, PLCs and motion. You no longer need any interfaces to do programming, instead you can start immediately with the creation of the necessary kinematics. Even more competitive advantages result for CAMA from the optimized footprint provided by control cabinet-free drive technology.

Efficient solution: In the new top-loading system from the packaging machine manufacturer CAMA, two Rexroth IndraMotion MLCs coordinate a total of 12 Delta robots.


Integration of vision systems

A robot is virtually useless under varying operating conditions, which is why CAMA placed particular importance on the full integration of a vision system. With regard to optimum productivity, the selected IndraMotion MLC from Bosch Rexroth allows for fast processing of the vision data and movement calculation using SERCOS or Ethernet. The movements of the pick positions can therefore be accurately synchronized even at the highest pick rates. For the next development step, CAMA would like to further increase the flexibility of its machine and integrate predictive maintenance. The IndraMotion platform already brings the necessary connectivity.


I4.0 Showcase with 3 robot stations

In order to take over typical tasks in the electronics and manufacturing industries such as assembly, handling, dispensing and testing, robotic applications need to be extremely flexible to deal with a wide range of kinematics. How this can be done successfully is what the i4.0 Showcase from Bosch Rexroth, a modular assembly line with three automatic and two manual stations, demonstrates. The product – a printed circuit board – steers itself through production. At the first automatic station, a Cartesian robot simulates the application of heat-conductive paste. The MLC and the Cartesian robot, like the drive and linear technology, come from Bosch Rexroth. At the second station, a Delta robot applies the heat sink. The Rexroth IndraMotion MLC controls the kinematics of a third-party mechanism that is operated using control cabinet-free drive technology from Rexroth. A 6-axis articulated-arm robot from KUKA with its own control and drive system performs the screwing down of the heat sink using a cordless nutrunner.

At the i4.0 Showcase from Bosch Rexroth each one IndraMotion MLC controls three robotics modules – a Cartesian, a Delta and an articulated-arm robot


Function toolkits accelerate engineering

To quickly integrate various robotics, motion and control functions, the IndraMotion platform features immediately applicable technology. The “Robot Control” function toolkit contains a variety of off-the-shelf and combinable kinematics and transformations – for standardized Cartesian, SCARA and Delta robots. But the system also offers many ways to integrate individual kinematics, thereby creating new degrees of freedom. For more complex tasks, Rexroth offers the GAT (generic application template) function toolkit, which provides highly functional application templates. With object-oriented templates based on the EC 61131-3 and PLCopen PLC standards, modular machine programs can be generated automatically. Within a short time, a complete framework for the robotics application can be created – including status machines, operating modes, HMI and diagnostics.


Dialogs, high-level languages and virtual commissioning

Within the IndraWorks engineering framework, wizards and other dialog-based tools allow for fast and easy configuration and parameterization. Simple sequential languages or high-level languages, including the scripting language Lua, C/C++, Java or C# are available for programming of the kinematics via the Open Core Interface. The user can choose the best development language for every application, as well as the matching tools from the IndraMotion platform. With the help of the commissioning dialog of the corresponding IndraWorks engineering software, new robots can already be put in motion without any programming effort. Virtual commissioning also leads to further increases in efficiency. The applications are simulated under real time conditions in order to prepare the way for smooth operation and the achievement of production goals reliably and stringently.


Integration of existing drive and control systems

If the robot comes with its own drive and control system, the ability to integrate the IndraMotion MLC is once again required. As an example, the i4.0 Showcase from Rexroth demonstrates the seamless connection of a 6-axis articulated-arm robot from KUKA via the vendor-specific KUKA.PLC mxAutomation data interface. Programmers can thus work within their familiar development environment. Instead of having to learn a new system or a new language, you create simple and standardized programs via PLCopen directly from the Rexroth control.

Network and command complete robot systems intelligently: The KuKa.PLC mxAutomation programming interface offers this option among others.


Simple integration of complete, partial and third-party systems

When motion control, robot control and logic control with technology functions merge to form a high-performance run-time system with application-oriented task settings, the apparent contradictions between engineering efficiency and degrees of freedom disappear. Third-party systems – whether it is pieces of a mechanism or complete robotic systems with their own control and drive solution – can be just as easily integrated as complete systems from the same vendor. With the combination of PLCopen, kinematics interface and Open Core Interface for high-level language programming, the maximum degrees of freedom for application development are created. Manufacturers benefit from this in several ways: In addition to the reduced initial investment for new projects, they benefit by the modular construction of their machine programs that can easily adapt to modified or completely new requirements.

About the Author:

is a Business Development Manager for Handling & Robotics at Bosch Rexroth. He studied electrical engineering with a specialization in automation at the Aschaffenburg University of Applied Sciences. He started his career at Singulus as a project engineer for automation of optical replication lines in 2002. He has been working at Bosch Rexroth since 2006, initially in technical sales support for automation systems in the field of motion control, and from 2015 in business development for handling & robotics.

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