Reliable Degassing in Battery Cell Production

The rise of electric vehicle sales increased demand for battery manufacturing. Many applications come my way. This example is something Festo can do with pneumatic and electric actuators.

In an active demonstration, as shown in this YouTube video of the demo, pneumatic and electric actuators from Festo handle and pierce battery cells.

At the center of a degassing demonstration is the process chamber. A cantilever handling system based on Festo’s spindle axes ELGT ensures dynamic and safe loading and unloading of the process chambers. The compact and cost-effective spindle axes ELGT, with integrated double guide, is ideal for creating 2D and 3D cantilever systems. As a 3D delivery system, for example, it packs up to 20 kg at speeds of up to 0.5 m/s. With a copper and zinc content of less than one percent, the axis is perfect for use in assembly systems in battery production or in small parts handling.

During the degassing process, the process chamber is evacuated using VZQA process valves. The VZQA’s open architecture makes these valves durable, energy-efficient, easy to maintain, and flexible. They are a suitable alternative to conventional valves such as diaphragm valves or ball valves. The pressure switch SPAN-B from Festo monitors the pressure in the process chamber.

IMTS / Hannover Messe Chicago Recap

I didn’t have time to finish this about IMTS/Hannover Messe when I found myself in rainy Folsom, CA at the Inductive Automation’s Ignition Community Conference. More on that later.

Here is a quick recap of my tour around two of the four full halls that comprised the event. I heard that there were more than 100,000 people who also toured the trade show floors.

Robotics

OnRobot — OnRobot Previews D:PLOY for Machine Tending at IMTS. D:PLOY automatically discovers and configures all the components in a robotic cell – including any leading collaborative or light industrial robot arm and tools – while also integrating external I/O from sensors and machines. D:PLOY will be available for all common robotic applications, making deployment up to 80% faster. See more.

Universal Robots—The booth featured nine partners with vertical industry applications and a new 20 kg cobot.

The UR20, the first of next-generation high performance cobots, has been redesigned from the ground up to provide up to 30% more speed and torque, advanced motion control capabilities, and first-class user experience. Its 20 kg payload and 1750 mm reach make it a match for applications ranging from palletizing to machine loading.

These partners exhibited within the booth. Click for more information. Cobot Systems, Hirebotics, Kane Robotics, MidAtlantic Machinery, PCC Robotics, Robotiq, Schunk, Vectis Automation, VersaBuilt.

ABB—Highlights include versatile industrial and collaborative robots, software advancements that reduce programming complexity, and a selection of interactive robotic educational systems and training programs.

• ABB has developed over 30 new robot, software digital and educational products and educational tools in the last year, designed to help industrial manufacturers of all sizes increase their operational performance and gain better access to a well-trained workforce

• ABB helps businesses of all sizes embrace the flexibility afforded by robotics to efficiently adapt production to satisfy their customer’s most pressing needs, especially as reshoring becomes a prominent means to address ongoing supply chain backlogs

For more information.

CNC

Siemens—Accelerating the digital transformation of the machine tool industry with Siemens Xcelerator 

• Siemens Xcelerator includes selected portfolio of IoT-enabled hardware, software and digital offerings for the machine tool industry

• Software applications for cloud, edge and customer servers with numerous innovations for the machine tool business

• First partner applications based upon Industrial Edge for Machine Tools, the open ecosystem for IoT

New technology functions for the SINUMERIK ONE CNC simplify operation and increase productivity

• Y-turning and Advanced Rapid Movement for greater machine tool productivity, 

up to 10% faster machining

• Reduced Dynamic Mode reduces wear and increases availability

• End-to-end keyboard and machine control panel portfolio from 15 to 24 inches

The introduction of Mcenter, a new manufacturing and resource management platform, designed to enhance the preparation of tool scheduling, workflow supervision and NC program  management — plus Mcenter will smartly and seamlessly network the machine tools with the company’s IT / OT landscape.  

For more information.

Automation

MFA Alliance — You may have noticed several items about private 5G networks for manufacturing and industrial applications. Several companies have joined this private network alliance

Find out which features you need to implement for your 5G private network device with Uni5G Technology Blueprints. Discover available spectrum options (locally licensed, shared, unlicensed) around the world for your private network. Gain access to MFA’s shared global PLMN-ID which can uniquely identify your private network.

GE Digital — Announced it has achieved Amazon Web Services (AWS) Industrial Software Competency status. GE Digital is also expanding its offerings in the AWS Marketplace with new cloud-based operational intelligence and Manufacturing Execution System (MES) software.

For more information.

Deacom (ECI Software)—With a deep awareness of the challenges faced by process manufacturers and distributors, Deacom has been developed as an ERP solution tailored to the needs of medium-sized enterprises within industries such as Food & Beverage, Chemical and Coatings, Cosmetics, Pharmaceuticals, and Nutraceuticals to name a few. Hyper-Tight Process Control enables you to easily identify issues within your supply chain, production, and order-to-cash processes early and fix – or eliminate – them before they turn into costly mistakes.

For more information.

HighByte — I talked with two of the founders of this DataOps company. It has a new release coming, teaser about future releases. My takeaway, DataOps has found customer footing. Watch for growth. For more information.

Artek 3D scanning — Perhaps the coolest demos of the show—handheld 3D scanning, built-in screen so that you don’t have to move it around and juggle a computer at the same time. Quickly transform your object into 3D graphics. For more information.

ATT —  The takeaway from my conversation at the AT&T booth was that 5G private networks are really in use. Also, you can go to the AT&T Business LinkedIn page for a “chat” that I participated in about smart factory. For more information.

Beckhoff Automation—The XPlanar magnetic conveyor was the hot thing in this booth. The XPlanar planar motor system combines the advantages of conventional transport technologies with magnetic levitation. The levitating 2D product transport enables a wide range of new options for handling products within a machine and also between several machines.

Similar to automated guided vehicle systems, the user benefits from the freedom of movement of the object carriers: Individual goods can be transported to any location via any route. XPlanar combines this flexibility with the dynamics of conventional linear motors and offers added value through cycle-time-optimized linking of individual production steps. XPlanar significantly simplifies individual production steps because the degrees of freedom and accuracy familiar from robotics can be used for 6D product handling. The concept of product positioning during processing is applied to the transport system. The floating effect replaces all mechanical guide components and drastically reduces cleaning and maintenance costs.

For more information.

Syntax — As I walked through the AWS booth, a woman at one of the kiosks called out, want to learn about predictive maintenance? This enterprise software company touts a better UI difference—one dashboard, one interface, predict material usage. For more information.

MQTT and Electric Actuators

I am currently in Houston attending Automation Fair by Rockwell Automation. This post-pandemic opening is down from the usual Fairs, but 4,000 customers is huge compared to many conferences, then including the virtual segment, there are more than 16.000 registered. This shows the power of including people who cannot normally travel. There will be much more about this trip later.

Meanwhile, I’m catching up on press releases I have received in the past month. It has been really busy for a long time. The pandemic has not slowed innovation. Here are release about MQTT from Real Time Automation and news from Festo

1. MQTT Industrial Protocol Gateways

Real Time Automation releases the MQTT protocol on its 460 industrial gateway line. MQTT is a flexible protocol that connects IT and OT systems by moving data across the factory floor and into cloud applications.
 
With an MQTT protocol gateway, it is easy to move industrial device data to cloud applications like AWS IoT Core, IT or enterprise systems. The 460 MQTT gateway is the tool that makes the communication with cloud applications accessible. From there, manufacturers can configure their industrial device data to schedule predictive maintenance, monitor system health, as well as measure and analyze OEE.
 
Like with all RTA gateways, the MQTT family of gateways are extremely customizable, allowing manufacturers to pick:
• Single tags
• User-Defined Tags (for Allen-Bradley PLCs)
• Data Space Blocks (for Siemens PLCs)
• Other data using any one of the many protocol drivers in the RTA protocol suite

“With a 460 MQTT gateway, it has the same easy, browser-based configuration as our other 460 gateways. Plus, you’ll get our standard five-year warranty and access to our industry-leading support team. It’s a no-brainer for people looking to get factory floor data into the cloud,” states John S. Rinaldi, founder and CEO of Real Time Automation.

2. Festo Shows Electrical as well as Pneumatic products

Festo showcased its Ethernet-based CPX-AP-I decentralized I/O at the Assemble Expo. Festo is well known for pneumatics, but this module allows OEMs, integrators, and end users to network up to 500 I/O modules on a single bus node and mix and match both electrics and pneumatics on the same I/O network. A free online configuration tool speeds design while plug-and-play performance reduces wiring and shortens installation time.

CPX-AP-I comes standard with IO-Link functionality facilitating cloud-based predictive analytics. This I/O system features machine mountable IP65/IP67 rated modules, which eliminates the time, expense, and footprint of control panels in a host of applications. A maximum distance of 50 meters between modules makes CPX-AP-I ideal for large scale systems.

Festo also features the Simplified Motion Series (SMS) of electric actuators. This new series combines the simplicity and cost effectiveness of pneumatics with the benefits of low energy consumption and precision positioning of electrics. SMS actuators now also deliver infinitely variable three-position motion for an economical all-in-one servo-motion solution. The SMS series includes ball screw, toothed belt, mini slide, electric cylinder, piston rod, and rotary actuator styles for an extensive range of applications. Setup for two or three positions is simple, allowing for fast startup and nimble changeover.

Festo electric axes can be specified for third party motors, which gives customers the freedom to choose the best actuator/motor combinations for their project. Axes can be ordered as easy to assemble kits or as ready to install subassemblies.

Ultracompact, High-Performance Servo Motors

You are probably doing a double take. Gary is writing about servo motors? My next post is on the Dunning-Kruger effect where you hit a point of your perceived knowledge far exceeds your actual knowledge and then the collapse to feeling you know nothing followed by a slow ascent to knowing there’s more to know.

Once upon a time, I had some knowledge of servo motors. I have not studied that technology for many years. Then this news release came my way with a request to help the company publicize its new product. I have nothing more to say. It looks interesting, but I no longer have market knowledge. Check it out if you’re building something that requires this form factor.

IQ Motion Control designs and delivers high performance motor modules for robotic and industrial applications. The company’s proprietary technology was born out of the University of Pennsylvania’s robotics lab and combines unique hardware designs with innovative calibration and control software to achieve high end motor performance at an affordable cost.

IQ Motion Control is excited to announce the launch of their newest line of servo motors, the Fortiq BLS42, on May 25, 2021. The Fortiq BLS42 is an ultracompact, high performance servo motor. It consists of a straight stack, straight magnet BLDC motor with an integrated motor controller, and magnetic rotary encoder for position sensing. It is built to maximize torque and speed output, while minimizing motor vibration and footprint. The modules are currently available for pre-order on Crowd Supply.

IQ’s Fortiq module offers the performance benefits of high-end industrial servos at the price of a quality stepper motor and controller. The Fortiq BLS42 motors are rated to 4,000 RPM, have ±2 encoder tick accuracy, experience a 90% reduction in cogging torque ripple with IQ’s calibration software, and have 50% less volume and are 70% less expensive compared to traditional industrial servo motors. There are also 4 size options available for users, each with a different torque rating which is dependent on stack length.

The Fortiq BLS42 is intended for industrial machinery companies, research institutions, and individual makers. It can be used in a wide variety of applications from 3D printers to conveyor belts to robotic joints. The Fortiq product line will replace traditional industrial servo motors by offering superior performance in a significantly smaller package. IQ Motion Control’s launch of the Fortiq BLS42 is the next step in bringing the most advanced motor control technology to the robotics and industrial machinery industry.

Performance Motion Devices Launches Ultra-Compact Motion Controller

You will usually see items related to software or IoT or management here. However my grandson was showing me the construction of his model, remote-control racing car yesterday giving me a soft spot for small motion control. OK, maybe a stretch, but this announcement from PMD caught my eye. Lots of projects could use something like this.

Performance Motion Devices, Inc. (PMD), a leading provider of motion control ICs, modules, and boards, announced today the availability of ION/CME N-Series Digital Drives, new members of the ION Digital Drive family that provide high-performance motion control, network connectivity and amplification. N-Series ION digital drives feature a patented, ultra-rugged PCB-mountable package with three power output levels – 75, 300, and 1,000 watts. All ION/CME N-Series Digital Drives support Brushless DC, DC Brush, and step motors.

ION/CME N-Series Digital Drives provide profile generation, servo compensation, stall detection, field oriented control (FOC), electronic camming, and many other motion control functions. Additional features include support for Ethernet, CAN, serial, and SPI (Serial Peripheral Interface) communications, and support for quadrature, sin/cos, and BiSS-C encoder formats.

Benefits of ION/CME N-Series Digital Drives include:

  • Revolutionary Reduction in Development Time – To create a complete ready-to-go control solution, engineers only have to select their desired motor type and power level and install on a simple interconnect board with their choice of connectors and form factor.
  • Flexible Connection Options – ION N-Series ION Digital Drives are easy to plug in and connect, supporting a range of communication interfaces including CAN, Ethernet, RS232, RS485, and SPI.
  • Small Package, Big Power – Despite their small size, measuring only 1.48”x1.48”x0.66” (38 mm x 38 mm x 17 mm), N-Series ION Drives can drive Brushless DC, DC Brush, and step motors with up to a Kilowatt of continuous power output.
  • Fully Programmable – At the core of every ION/CME N-Series Digital Drive is PMD’s powerful motion control language called C-Motion®. This award-winning language gives engineers the ability to write code and share across all their machine designs.

“Beyond their impressive technical features, the N-Series ION drives have a revolutionary all-in one design approach that allows the creation of fully custom multi-axis motion control boards in weeks, rather than months or even years,” states Chuck Lewin, CEO of Performance Motion Devices, Inc. 

ION/CME N-Series Digital Drives are available immediately and are priced from $209 in quantity depending on motor type controlled and power level. For more information on ION/CME N-Series Digital Drives and Developer Kits.

Automate Forward Keynote Speakers, Agenda Announced

This announcement for Automate Forward, the conference and trade show of the Association for Advancing Automation (A3), popped into my inbox this morning. The conference part of pandemic-era events draws many excellent speakers. The technology has greatly improved over the years to at least not getting in the way, if not improving the experience. Networking and trade show visiting still lag, but I’ve seen strides in the booth visitation area. 

A personal observation from an old guy. I remember past lives where each of the areas of this trade show were large events in themselves. Industry and technology consolidation have reduced the size, but the importance to manufacturing remains.

In the spring of 2021, the Robotic Industries Association (RIA),  AIA – Advancing Vision + Imaging, Motion Control & Motor Association (MCMA), and A3 Mexico  will become the Association for Advancing Automation (A3), the global advocate for the benefits of automating. A3 promotes automation technologies and ideas that transform the way business is done. Combined, these associations represent over 1,100 automation manufacturers, component suppliers, system integrators, end users, research groups and consulting firms from throughout the world that drive automation forward.

A3 hosts a number of industry-leading events, including the new virtual Automate Forward (March 22-26, 2021) and the Automate Show & Conference (June 6-9, 2022, in Detroit, MI).

More than 80 global experts will speak at Automate Forward, the world’s premier virtual automation trade show and conference set for March 22-26, 2021.  The event also features more than 250 leading companies in an expanded exhibit area, enhanced networking opportunities, and a look at innovative automation startups.

Speakers include senior executives from companies such as 3M, General Motors, Intel, Microsoft, UPS, IBM, GE, FedEx, Siemens, and Proctor & Gamble.

“With the adoption of automation accelerating, and the impossibility of holding large in-person shows in the US at the moment, Automate Forward will play a critical role in educating companies about how robotics, AI, machine vision, motion control, and related automation technologies can immediately help improve product quality, productivity, competitiveness, and worker safety,” said Jeff Burnstein, President of the Association for Advancing Automation (A3), the event’s host.

Automate Forward will include a robust virtual exhibit hall and networking center where attendees can connect directly with companies and experts to solve their automation solutions and get immediate answers. The trade show will be open daily from 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM ET for attendees to learn about products and systems that can help with unique challenges.

A3 will share a sneak peek of the association’s new brand identity at 9:30 am ET on Monday, March 22 exclusively for Automate Forward attendees. Join live to learn about how its four current brands – RIA, AIA, MCMA, and A3 Mexico – are combing to create the new A3 representing over 1100 global companies and organizations active in automation.

Automate Forward Keynote Sessions

Monday, March 22

10 AM ET PANEL: The New Industries Driving The Growth of Automation and Robotics
Robert Little, CEO, ATI Industrial Automation
Mark Lewandowski, Director – Robotics Innovation, Procter & Gamble
John Dulchinos, Vice President, Jabil
Ted Dengel, Managing Director, Operations Technology and Innovation, FedEx Ground
John Bubnikovich, Chief Regional Officer – North America, KUKA Robotics

11 AM ET: The Competitive Advantage is Here and It’s All About Digital
Raj Batra, President, Digital Industries, Siemens

1:30 PM ET: Moving Automation Forward: What is required?

Greg Brown, Vice President of Strategy and R&D, UPS

Tuesday, March 23

10 AM ET PANEL: The 2021 State of the Automation Industry Executive Roundtable
Mike Cicco, President & CEO, FANUC AMERICA
Patrick McDermott, President North America, B&R Automation
Dr. Thomas Evans, CTO Robotics, Honeywell Intelligrated
Christine Boles, Vice President, Internet of Things Group – General Manager, Industrial Solutions Division, Intel
Sebastien Schmitt, North American Robotics Division Manager, Stäubli

11 AM ET: Human Aware Robot Software and Tools for Delivering it
Rodney Brooks, Co-Founder and CTO, Robust.AI

1:30 PM ET: 3M’s Automation Journey: Driving Growth & Productivity
Debarati Sen, Vice President & General Manager Abrasive Systems Division Safety & Industrial Business Group, 3M

Wednesday, March 24

10 AM ET PANEL: The Rise of Smart Automation
Rashmi Misra, GM AI Platforms, Business Development, Microsoft
Jorge Ramirez, Global Director Automation and Chief Mfg. Cybersecurity Officer, General Motors
Rishi Vaish, CTO and VP, IBM AI Applications, IBM
John Lizzi, Executive Leader – Robotics, GE

Tom Panzarella, Senior Director of Perception, Seegrid

11 AM ET: Using Deep Learning and Simulation to Teach Robots Manipulation in Complex Environments
Dieter Fox, Senior Director of Robotics Research, NVIDIA

1:30 PM ET: Automation and the Future of Manufacturing
Indranil Sircar, CTO, Manufacturing Industry, Microsoft

Thursday, March 25

10 AM ET PANEL: How Collaborative Automation is Driving Productivity
Co-sponsored by the International Federation of Robotics
Milton Guerry, President, Schunk USA
Joe Gemma, Global Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Calvary Robotics
Greg Smith, President of the Industrial Automation Group at Teredyne
David Robers, Robotics Sales Manager – Americas, Denso Robotics

11 AM ET: Value Chain Integration and Optimization Through Robotics in Consumer segments and Retail
Marc Segura, Executive Global Business Line Leader – Consumer Segment Service Robotics, ABB Robotics and Machine Automation

Friday, March 26

10 AM ET PANEL: Autonomous Mobile Robots: How to Get Started
Karen Leavitt, Chief Marketing Officer, Locus Robotics

Søren E. Nielsen, President, Mobile Industrial Robots
Matt Rendall, CEO and Co-Founder, OTTO Motors
Rob Sullivan, President, AutoGuide Mobile Robots
Melonee Wise, CEO and Founder, Fetch Robotics

11 AM ET: Using an End-to-End Workflow to Build, Iterate, and Operationalize Deep Learning-Powered Visual Inspection Projects

Andrew Ng, CEO & Founder, Landing AI