I’m finally catching up on news from past trips. I stopped by the Beckhoff Automation booth at SPS in Nuremberg last November and chatted for about an hour over all the displays. Here is a sampling.

TwinSAFE: modular, scalable and distributed safety applications

The ability to distribute the intelligence of an entire safety application across multiple TwinSAFE Logic-capable I/O modules enables the flexible implementation of increasingly modular architectures that can be adapted to given system requirements even more effectively than before.

It is possible to adapt the TwinSAFE system even more specifically to the individual requirements of a machine concept as well as to a broader spectrum of safety applications. The new I/O components include:

– TwinSAFE EtherCAT Terminal EL1918: digital terminal with eight safe inputs

– TwinSAFE EtherCAT Terminal EL2911: safe potential supply terminal with four safe inputs and one safe output

– TwinSAFE EtherCAT Box EP1957-0022: IP 67-protected digital combi module with eight safe inputs and four safe outputs

System-integrated and inexpensive precision measurement technology for efficient machines and test benches

ELM314x economy line of the EtherCAT measurement modules supplements the established ELM3x0x line with a lower cost 1 ksps class. This simplifies the use of the system-integrated precision measurement technology, which taps significant optimisation and efficiency potentials both in production machines and in inline test benches.

The new ELM314x measurement modules are available in 2, 4, 6 and 8-channel versions. High-precision measurements with an accuracy of 100 ppm are possible – and in a wide temperature range from 10 to 40 °C at that. Each channel of the measurement modules can be set to current or voltage measurements with a sampling rate of up to 1 ksps per channel. Analog signals in the ranges from ±1.25 to ±10 V, 0 to10 V, ±20 mA or 0/4 to 20 mA can be processed.

Typical application examples include part geometry measurement on the fly, as well as fast, but highly precise weighing procedures, e.g. in bottling plants. In general, the ELM314x EtherCAT measurement modules are ideal for recording data from 10 V/20 mA sensors and forfeeding real-time information directly back into the process.

CX7000 Embedded PC

The CX7000 Embedded PC opens up the convenience and efficiency of the TwinCAT 3 software environment to compact controllers. This enhances the scalability of PC-based control technology from Beckhoff – ranging from mini-PLCs to many-core Industrial PCs. An advanced 400 MHz processor and built-in configurable I/Os mean the Embedded PC delivers an optimum price/performance ratio.

Equipped with an ARM Cortex-M7 processor (32 bit, 400 MHz), the CX7000 Embedded PC makes considerably higher processing power available in the low-cost, compact controller segment. Furthermore, all the advantages of the TwinCAT 3 software generation can be utilised, while an extremely compact design with dimensions of just 49 x 100 x 72 mm ensures optimum scalability of PC-based control for small controller applications that typically require minimum footprint.

With multi-functional I/O channels directly integrated, the CX7000 assures excellent value for money:

  • 8 digital inputs, 24 V DC, 3 ms filter, type 3
  • 4 digital outputs, 24 V DC, 0.5 A, 1-wire technology

These integrated multi-functional I/Os can be configured for other operating modes via TwinCAT 3, enabling the option to use fast counting or processing of analog values:

  • counter mode: 1 x 100 kHz digital counter input, 1 x digital input as up/down counter, 2 x digital counter outputs
  • incremental encoder mode: 2 x digital inputs for 100 kHz encoder signal, 2 x digital encoder outputs
  • analog signal mode: 2 x digital inputs configured as analog inputs 0…10 V, 12 bit
  • PWM signal mode: 2 x digital outputs configured for PWM signal

EtherCAT G

The technology expansion EtherCAT G takes the high EtherCAT performance to the next level by delivering the Gigabit Ethernet speeds needed to support highly data-intensive applications. The latest technology expansion is not only compatible with the globally established 100 Mbit/s EtherCAT standard, but also provides the same familiar ease of use. In addition, the new branch controller model for EtherCAT G enables efficient operation of multiple network segments in parallel.

EtherCAT G supports standard Ethernet transmission rates of 1 Gbit/s; its EtherCAT G10 counterpart, already introduced as a proof-of-concept technology study, is even faster with data rates of 10 Gbit/s. The sharp increase in transmission rates beyond the standard 100 Mbit/s provided by EtherCAT significantly increases the possible data throughput. With propagation delay times through devices as a limiting factor on the one hand, but boosted by the newly introduced branch model on the other, EtherCAT G can deliver a two-to-sevenfold performance increase, depending on the application.

Hans Beckhoff, the company’s Managing Director comments: “EtherCAT G and G10 raise performance to entirely new levels that will enable our customers to build the best, highest-performing machinery in the world! EtherCAT G and G10 are not meant to replace the highly successful EtherCAT standard based on 100 Mbit/s Ethernet. The new performance levels are intended as system-compatible expansions.”

XPlanar: Flying Motion

Beckhoff is opening up new avenues in machine design with XPlanar. This is made possible by planar movers that float freely above arbitrarily arranged planar tiles and enable extremely flexible, precise and highly dynamic positioning. For machine builders this results in maximum flexibility and simplification in the design of machines and plants.

The XPlanar system combines the individual arrangement of planar tiles with the multi-dimensional positioning capability of the planar movers floating above them. The movers can be moved jerk-freeand contact-free in two dimensions at up to 4 m/s with 2 g acceleration and 50 µm positioning repeatability – and noiselessly and without abrasion.

The planar motor system is highly scalable to suit individual needs and considerably simplifies the design of machines and plants. Due to the maximum flexibility in mover positioning and the very high dynamics it is possible, for example, to divide product flows very simply and individually, so that previously necessary robots or inflexible mechanical devices can be efficiently replaced. The contact-free mover travel also eliminates wear, emissions and the carryover of contaminations.

The collision-free and synchronised movement of several movers with automatic path optimisation are further features provided by the TwinCAT automation software. The movement of several movers together in a group, for example, allows the maximum payload to be increased.

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