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.
It has been many years since I did any servo drive sizing, but I must say I’m still haunted by the work. This news coming just before Hannover maintains my confidence in Festo’s technical chops.
Electric Motion Sizing
Slashing the engineering time required for identifying and specifying harmonized electric motion systems
Multi-axis handling systems can be specified
Simply input key parameters, such as mass, stroke/travel distance, and cycle time (see video).
Performs the complex mass moment of inertia calculations
Identifies in real time the combination of components most effective for the application’s parameters
Following selection, the Electric Motion Sizing tool transfers the selected combination of components to the Festo online shop, together with commissioning files. The online shop provides pricing and delivery information
Festo integrated Electric Motion Sizing with the Festo Automation Suite for simplified commissioning. With the Festo Automation Suite, diverse products from remote IO to pneumatic valve terminals, PLCs, and servo drives are commissioned via a single free tool
Automation Suite automatically connects to the Festo cloud to download project specific documentation and updates within the software
It also incorporates Codesys code for programming PLCs and motion controllers.
I wish I were in Barcelona for the Mobile World Congress, but at least the sun is shining in northern Illinois as I accumulate news from the event. And the word of the day is 5G. This post focuses on Nokia and how it has moved on from the mobile handset business.
Two things: first of two moves by Dell Technologies this time with Nokia plus 5G positioning (as in manufacturing a piece) technology with Bosch. Check out the “hardware-as-a-service” model and high end compute. I spent some time working with a team at Dell several years ago as they searched for a manufacturing use case. Looks like they’re playing with a new one.
Nokia bolsters MX Industrial Edge Capabilities
- Nokia MXIE to leverage high-performance Dell PowerEdge server family to support the increasing processing needs of Industry 4.0 use cases
- Nokia introduces MXIE GPU support for advanced real-time video analytics applications and to unlock future business-critical AI and machine learning OT use cases
- Nokia to offer MXIE in a Hardware-as-a-Service model, reducing CAPEX requirements to allow more enterprises to digitalize operations leveraging OT data
Nokia announced it is working with other industry-leading technology providers as it boosts the capabilities of the off-the-shelf, Mission-Critical Industrial Edge (MXIE) to manage the growing digitalization demands of industries. Nokia will also make it possible for many more enterprises to realize the value of operational technology (OT) data with the introduction of MXIE in a Hardware-as-a-Service (HaaS) model.
As enterprises implement a growing number of Industry 4.0 use cases, such as autonomous robots in a factory or warehouse leveraging real-time situational awareness for safety, or zero-fault manufacturing using advanced real-time video analytics for efficiency, demand is growing for high-capacity, on-premise edge processing. To support this, Nokia is introducing a new high-performance, high-capacity infrastructure platform from Dell Technologies, beginning with the Dell PowerEdge XR11 server to further increase the processing power of the MXIE to handle the most demanding and complex workloads.
The new Dell PowerEdge XR11 server-based MXIE featuring 3rd Generation Intel® Xeon® Scalable Processor introduces physical graphics processing unit (GPU) support. The high-performance NVIDIA A2 Tensor Core GPU enables versatile *AI inference acceleration.
This, for example, will unlock business-critical use cases that rely on real-time monitoring of video feeds and alerts using applications such as Nokia Scene Analytics or Atos Computer Vision Platform, which uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) for quality assurance and video analytics solutions for mission-critical applications.
By offering MXIE in a HaaS model, Nokia will enable more enterprises to begin their digitalization journey. This will reduce up-front capital investment, and allow them to benefit from MXIE capabilities on a subscription basis.
Nokia and Bosch Set a New Bar for 5G Positioning and Look Ahead to 6G
- Proof-of-concept network in Germany demonstrated accuracy within 50 cm
- Nokia and Bosch are continuing their joint research in 6G, exploring the integration of sensing technologies in future 6G systems
Nokia and Bosch announced that they have jointly developed 5G-based precision positioning technology intended for new Industry 4.0 use cases. The two have deployed the proof of concept in a Bosch production plant in Germany, where extensive tests under realistic manufacturing conditions have shown an accuracy within 50 cm in 90 percent of the factory footprint.
The positioning technology tracks mobile and portable devices connected to the 5G network, accurately determining their positions where no global navigation satellite service coverage is available, for instance in factories, warehouses or underground facilities. As part of the factory test, an enhanced private 5G network was able to determine the precise position of assets such as automated guided vehicles (AGVs), mobile robots and mobile control panels – tracking their movements throughout the plant in real time.
Traditionally, 5G positioning works by measuring the time it takes for mobile signals to travel from a mobile device to different base stations and anchor nodes in the network. As signals take longer to reach nodes that are further away, the positioning system can triangulate its source. Nokia and Bosch have built upon that foundation by equipping 5G nodes with multiple receive antennas, which enable the network to detect the incoming angles of signals. Advanced Nokia Bell Labs algorithms interpret this time-delay and angle-of-arrival information to determine the most probable position of the mobile device. Their proof-of-concept achieves a level of accuracy well beyond the current cellular position state-of-the-art, providing a sneak peek at what 5G networks, both public and private, will be capable of in the future.
Precision localization is important for many applications in industrial environments, such as robot navigation, asset tracking and worker safety. Realizing both high-performance connectivity and high-accuracy positioning within a single private network’s infrastructure also has many operational benefits, such as reducing the complexity of IT infrastructure, leading to a lower total cost of ownership (TCO) and higher returns on investments.
The Rockwell Automation PR team must have worked overtime following November’s Automation Fair. Here are a number of releases on new products and services. These cover a spectrum of technology areas that further reveal the breadth of Rockwell’s reach.
- Smart Machine Development
- GuardLink with EtherNet/IP
- FactoryTalk Logix Echo
- Cyber Endpoint Protection Services
Simplify Smart Machine Development with Improved Micro800 Controllers and Design Software
Machine builders can save engineering time and costs with the enhanced Allen-Bradley Micro850 and Micro870 2080-Lx0E controllers using the latest Connected Components Workbench software from Rockwell Automation.
- Class 1 implicit messaging capability up to eight EtherNet/IP devices support
- Streamline integration of controller to drives, supporting PowerFlex 520 series and Kinetix 5100 drives over EtherNet/IP with pre-defined tags and pre-developed user-defined function block (UDFB) instructions.
- Connected Components Workbench software version 21 required.
GuardLink 2.0 with new EtherNet/IP Interface
- GuardLink 2.0 offers advanced diagnostics by way of the new Allen-Bradley 432ES GuardLink EtherNet/IP On-Machine Interface or a combination of Dual GuardLink Relay and EtherNet/IP Interface.
- GuardLink 2.0 protocol also enables safety-rated control device status reporting and automatic diagnostic reporting to an HMI using CIP Safety over EtherNet/IP.
- Connect up to 96 safety devices via three independent safety channels.
- The interface can cascade power to additional interfaces and can keep track of timing and frequency of events to improve maintenance and create process efficiencies.
- The 432ES supports linear, star and Device Level Ring topologies while meeting safety ratings up to SIL 3, Cat 4 PLe.
New Capabilities in Emulation and Support with First expansion of FactoryTalk Logix Echo
- Attention was dedicated to improving testing, giving users access to more than 20 variations of the 5580 ControlLogix platform at their disposal.
- FactoryTalk Logix Echo simplifies the emulator experience by providing users the opportunity to download directly to FactoryTalk Logix Echo without modifications.
- Having the emulation of the 5580 ControlLogix Ethernet port means that to other software, FactoryTalk Logix Echo looks like another controller, offering flexibility to expand your emulation to visualization or other controllers.
- Version 2 will be the first emulation platform to support safety controllers by introducing GuardLogix 5580 controller catalogs.
- The inaugural version supported one 17 slot chassis, but the latest release now supports the creation and communication of multiple chassis with one FactoryTalk Logix Echo license.
Comprehensive Endpoint Protection Services
- For organizations to secure their operations and reduce cyber threats, a successful cybersecurity strategy requires solutions to secure endpoints – any device that is connected to a network outside of its firewall, including laptops, HMIs, switches, IoT devices, and more.
- Rockwell Automation and CrowdStrike are providing manufacturers with comprehensive Endpoint Protection Services, combining Rockwell Automation’s Industrial Cybersecurity Services and CrowdStrike Falcon platform to monitor, protect, investigate, and respond to incidents.
- Purpose-built in the cloud with a single lightweight-agent architecture, the CrowdStrike Falcon platform delivers rapid and scalable deployment, superior protection and performance, reduced complexity, and immediate time-to-value.
- When customers choose the CrowdStrike Falcon platform through Rockwell Automation, they receive the industry-leading software coupled with OT-specific Falcon policies, developed by Rockwell Automation cybersecurity specialists, and backed by software and phone support.
- Endpoint Protection fits into the expansive Rockwell Automation portfolio of Managed Services along with Incident Response and Threat Detection to provide customers with a holistic cybersecurity solution.
Rockwell Automation Expands Threat Detection Offering through Managed Services
In many ways the tech industry—consumer and industrial including even Apple—is moving from product-centric to finding ways to promote continuing revenue through service offerings. This example comes via Rockwell Automation.
Rockwell Automation launched the new Threat Detection Managed Services offering in early 2022 providing customers with application-level, real-time monitoring, and response services to help detect, identify, contain, eradicate, and recover from a cyber incident. This is a cloud-based service focusing on both Cisco and Claroty threat detection software.
- 24/7 security alert monitoring
- 24/7 hardware health monitoring
- System tuning
- Software update administration
- Backup administration
- Value reporting
Rockwell Automation Simplifies Sizing, Selection of Motion Control Components with New FactoryTalk Motion Analyzer
I appreciate the efforts of companies to automate and optimize everyday activities such as all the work involved with designing and implementing motion control. This is a new release from Rockwell Automation.
FactoryTalk Motion Analyzer software enables users to select, analyze and validate their system components using new intuitive workflows and comparison tools. It is now available for download on the Rockwell Automation website.
FactoryTalk Motion Analyzer consists of a comprehensive component library that allows the analysis of a wide-variety of user-defined applications. Designers can select their system using a combination of Kinetix motors, Kinetix drives, select PowerFlex drives and third-party components such as gearboxes from Rockwell Automation Technology Partners. They can choose from pre-built application templates or by start with a blank template adding components and motion profiles to define the ideal machine.
Bosch Rexroth held a webinar unveiling its ctrlX control platform in March 2021 that I had the pleasure of moderating. According to a press event held this week, more than 600 units have been sold.
Rexroth representative use terms like freedom, openness, next level. Preceding Rexroth down this openness path in my experience were OMAC (originally Open Modular Architecture Controller, now know for PackML), Bedrock Automation (Open Secure Automation), and OPAF (Open Process Automation Foundation).
OMAC didn’t come up with an open controller, but it did come up with a winner for the packaging machinery market with PackML. I gave Bedrock Automation a good chance to succeed with its emphasis on security along with open automation. But as I researched for this article, I discovered its website almost stripped bare. Don’t know what happened there. OPAF has momentum building an architecture that is a “standard of standards.”
Many companies have presented revolutionary control concepts to me during my years as an editor and writer. Most are gone. Rexroth has a successful run as a motion control technology provider. I predict a solid niche for it in the machine OEM market with this technology–especially if the app ecosystem is sticky.
They call it the “smartphone of controllers” pointing to its ecosystem of apps now being provided by third-party automation companies. I’ve also seen ecosystems come and go. Perhaps one day one will find traction. Perhaps this is the one.
Here are a few morsels from this week’s press event:
CtrlX Operating System
- Now available for third party developers
- Linux-based operating system
- Available for hardware from third-party providers and virtualized environments
- Next level of openness and freedom in automation
- Can be used on all levels – from the field level to the cloud
- Hardened software stack with a high degree of cybersecurity
- Connection to the ctrlX Store and the ctrlX Device Portal
- Hardware independence also makes it possible to operate a virtual control system on hypervisor platforms, in the data center, on edge servers or in the cloud.
- Supports app technology, web-based engineering, secure user management and the high-performance exchanging of data via the ctrlX Data Layer.
- The ctrlX Device Portal allows effective device management anywhere in the world.
The next level of freedom in automation
ctrlX ecosystem with app technology
- New third-party support
- Salesforce supports digital service concepts
- SICK contributes sensor data integration and sensor apps
- Partner world ctrlX World now includes over 60 third-party providers
- Other partners that have joined the ctrlX World in recent months include: 36ZERO Vision by Deutschdata Karamat und Ziesche GmbH, Dataprophet, FANUC Deutschland GmbH, Hailo Technologies Ltd., i-flow GmbH, KEBA Industrial Automation GmbH, SIMON Modellierungen GmbH, Timecho Europe GmbH, WEPALL ROBOT EASY TOOLS, S.L. and Balluff GmbH.