One place I am not this week is Pack Expo. But then, I am also not at FabTech. Too many other things going on. However, I’m keeping up with automation and motion control through communications with interesting companies.
Festo is a company that continues to impress me with its innovation. It both “sticks to its knitting” while also exploiting new technology and improving use cases. Following are three important announcements unveiled this week in Las Vegas.
- CPX-AP-A distributed I/O
- Family of Multi-Protocol Servo Drives
CPX-AP-A distributed I/O
Festo adds to its distributed I/O solution CPX-AP-A, along with its established CPX-AP-I decentralized I/O. AP stands for Automation Platform and this backplane-based remote I/O system has been in development for a decade.
“The Festo AP backplane communications platform, that provides a central communication and data transfer I/O interface, is a combination of everything that we’ve learned over the past 25 years of providing electric and pneumatic linear automation solutions,” said Tim Sharkey, Director of Electric Automation, Festo North America. “AP backplane communications brings together enormous functionality and creates a higher level of integration among our devices than we’ve ever had. AP continues the tradition of Festo product development and manufacturing excellence. It leverages our strengths.”
CPX-AP-A distributed I/O has modules attached within a terminal. CPX-AP-I is Festo’s decentralized I/O where modules are connected via cable at distances of up to 50 meters (164 feet) between modules. AP modules, whether on-terminal or individual, are IP65/67 rated and can be located in cabinets, in clusters around the cell, individually placed, or separated at great distances. Every AP module features a high-performance real-time backplane transmission rate of 200 Mbps full duplex.
AP gives machine builders the freedom to optimize the machine or cell by adding I/O where they need it, and in ways that will best boost performance and diagnostics capabilities. The AP ecosystem makes it efficient for end-user customers to add functionality as needs arise.
Whether physically attached on-terminal or connected via cable, all components such as PLCs, valves, motors, drives, and I/O appear to the programmer to be incorporated within one smart terminal under a single IP address. Having the entire distributed and decentralized I/O topology under a single IP address significantly reduces hardware and installation costs while lowering system complexity. Since many PLCs come with a limited number of IP addresses, the Festo solution means more capabilities are possible per PLC.
Festo’s multi-year product roadmap calls for the continued rollout of AP-based PLCs, valves, linear actuators, motors, and drives. For those OEMs and end-user customers wanting extended AP capabilities today, Festo support teams can make much of that happen.
“There are many companies with distributed I/O,” observed Eric Rice, Product Market Manager, Festo North America. “On the other side there are suppliers for electric or pneumatic linear motion. Not one North American supplier on either side of that line comes close to offering the same level of performance, capabilities, and support that stems from the integration of the AP platform with the breadth of Festo motion solutions.”
New Festo Family of Multi-Protocol Servo Drives
Festo introduces the CMMT MP family of multi-protocol servo drives. Every drive in this family is configurable as EtherNet/IP, EtherCAT, PROFINET, and Modbus TCP.
To choose the protocol for a CMMT multi-protocol servo drive, engineers log into the drive using the free online productivity tool Festo Automation Suite, select the protocol of choice from a drop-down menu, and configure the unit.
The Festo CMMT family includes CMMT-ST-MP compact DC servo drives. The drives are rated up to 300 W and are popular with builders that require a small, high quality, readily available drive. CMMT-AS-MP compact AC servo drives are rated up to 6 KW. Remarkably small 9- and 12-KW CMMT-AS-MP units are slated for sale later this year.
With the Festo free online productivity tools, Electric Motion Sizing and Handling Guide Online, machine builders can specify linear and multi-axis systems in minutes not hours. The Festo Automation Suite free online tool significantly shortens commissioning time. It also incorporates the CODESYS integrated development environment (IDE) for programming Festo modular controllers CPX-E-CEC. CMMT MP drives are backwards compatible with Classic CMMT servo drives, including identical cabling and mounting.