ABB Launches Upgraded DCS ABB Ability System 800xA

While on the smaller, more flexible Process Control theme, let’s take a look at ABB. That company brought a new editor who came from industry up to the Cleveland suburbs to learn all about their newly designed process control system, the 800xA.

ABB says that as plants keep growing in complexity, the number of tags, and the diversity of field devices and instrumentation. The latest update, version 6.2, is said to reduce the complexity and cost of automation projects.

The design is said to enhance connectivity through improvements in OPC UA support, native Ethernet APL device integration, and the increased quantity of supported PROFINET devices to meet the growing number of network centric I/O and field devices.

Further, native, direct connectivity to PROFIsafe devices increases safety while reducing engineering, installation, and maintenance costs for SIS (Safety Instrumented System) installations.

The new Ethernet I/O marshalling tool makes it easier to distribute individual channels and modules between controllers for projects utilizing network I/O solutions such as Select I/O and S800 on Ethernet.

System 800xA 6.2 now supports the use of Microsoft Defender Antivirus to enhance cyber security while reducing the cost of automation system ownership.

Emerson’s New Flexible Control Helps OEMs and Small Manufacturing Operations

We often imagine the customers of the large process control systems suppliers we probably think of large corporations who can (and sometimes do) acquire large and complex control systems. A vast part of the market consists of small to mid-sized companies. Sometimes it’s a large corporation but the various plants are small. A few of those were customers of mine back in the day.

Good to see Emerson addressing that market. They’ve introduced the DeltaV Flex System, a subscription service that combines the DeltaV PK Flex Controller, term-based software licensing, and product support in a packaged solution. The new solution provides more flexibility for original equipment manufacturers (OEM) and process manufacturers who create small standalone systems, such as research and development labs, pilot programs, or skids. Subscription features reduce up-front costs and engineering complexity, which helps teams get projects started more quickly.

The DeltaV Flex System leverages Emerson’s DeltaV PK Flex Controller, with base packages starting at 50, 100 or 250 Flex device signal tags (DST). Users can also add DeltaV functionality as needed at any time to customize the DeltaV Flex System to meet their unique application and operational needs.

The DeltaV Flex System provides access to all the functionality of the DeltaV Distributed Control System, including support for PROFINET, DeltaV Live, multiple operation stations, version control and audit trail, full batch functionality, safety and more.

Because DeltaV Flex is a subscription solution, it also includes product support through Emerson’s Guardian digital experience, which offers a secure portal for connecting to technical assistance, managing subscriptions, and interacting with additional software and services tailored to meet users’ specific operational needs.

Automate Report 6: Technologies

This final report from the Automate 2024 show encompasses some unique technology applications along with other technologies. Featured are Vention, Zebra, LexxPluss, Orbbec, Ericsson and Dassault.


I have written about Vention a few times. I first met them as an innovative component designer. They told me they’ve recently combined five business. Their unique take on technology is that you can Design and Build your machine from their CAD and components on the Web. You go to their CAD and find amenu of components they offer. You design your machine and price BOM, all on Web. It’s sort of like assembling Legos. You can check it out—the CAD part is free to use. You can also add code including Python and C, then simulate machine, and purchase system. You deploy the system with their controller, which can track analytics. Service is prompt and efficient.

Zebra Technologies Advancing the Connected Factory

Zebra’s latest fixed industrial scanner, the Zebra FS42 is designed for resource-intensive tasks like deep learning-based optical character recognition (OCR) applications and high-throughput scanning requiring speed. Its increased onboard memory and neural processing unit (NPU) enable faster scanning and more complex artificial intelligence (AI)-based deep learning machine vision applications. 

Zebra’s Aurora Software Suite is ideal for addressing the track-and-trace and vision inspection needs of users at all experience levels. It supports barcode reading and additional inspection tasks like OCR, dimensioning, and defect detection. The FS42 features Zebra’sAurora Focus which makes it easy to set up, deploy, and run the device, eliminating the need for other tools and reducing training time. 

Zebra’s new 3S Series 3D sensors will also be introduced at Automate. Using patented parallel structured light, the industrial-grade 3S series enables 3D sensing for static and moving items – including those that are high-gloss, translucent, or transparent – with sub-millimeter resolution and accuracy. 

Zebra’s 3S series captures various sizes and is “plug-and-play” ready with a Power over Ethernet (PoE) connection. They will be bundled with Zebra’s Aurora Design Assistant or Aurora Vision Studio which speeds up development and brings 3D vision applications online quicker. 

The 3S40 sensor is designed to scan static objects, integrating them into manufacturing operations to resolve inspection and dimensioning applications with a scanning range of up to 7 t./2.1 meters. The 3S80 sensor is built to capture dynamic scenes and create 3D point color clouds in real time, expanding the range of advanced automation applications. It has a scan range of up to 10 ft./3 meters. 

Zebra Symmetry Fulfillment comprises a comprehensive solution that helps workers and robots be more productive, optimizing the path of a picker with a team of robots for a directed workflow.  Zebra Symmetry Fulfillment uses the power of autonomous mobile robots (AMRs), wearable technologies, software, and analytics to maintain high-quality standards while improving performance and reducing costs per unit.

LexxPluss launches scalable, interoperable mobile conveying

The Japanese intralogistics and mobile robotics company featured the Lexx500 autonomous mobile robot, the LexxTug towing interface, the LexxFleet management system and its IoT LexxHub, which facilitates the collective automation of existing systems with Lexx500 AMRs for enhanced safety and interoperability.

Lexx500 next-generation automated transfer robots with multi-sensor safety features can be deployed from just a single unit and easily increased to a multi-AMR fleet, providing market-leading scalability. The Lexx500 requires no fixed equipment and can automatically transfer heavy loads/objects up to 300kg (660 lbs) with minor modifications, or 500kg (1100 lbs) as is with LexxTug attached.

The LexxTug towing interface allows manufacturers to use general-purpose carts such as cage carts and 6-wheel carts without modification to automatically transfer loads of up to 500kg (1100 lbs). It has an automatic detachment function to enable it to fit into existing operations without major changes.

The LexxFleet management system delivers task management, group control management of multiple units, and system integration. The fleet management system provides users with Lexx500 transport status management, map display, multiple task execution/reservation, RESTful API integration, and remote emergency stop function for the safe, efficient management of AMR fleets.

LexxHub is an IoT solution that enables collective automation of existing systems by allowing existing equipment to connect to the network and work with a fleet of Lexx500 AMRs, creating an autonomous worksite through equipment cooperation. Collaborative tasks such as calling an elevator, production equipment lines, or fire prevention functions such as shutters and alarms can be performed in time with AMRs to enhance productivity and safety.

Orbbec Gemini 330 Series of Stereo Vision 3D Cameras

Orbbec, an industry leader dedicated to 3D vision systems, introduced its Gemini 330 series, featuring the Gemini 335 and Gemini 335L Stereo Vision 3D cameras. Engineered as universal solutions for diverse 3D application scenarios, these cameras boast Orbbec’s latest depth engine chip MX6800, a purpose-built ASIC and patented hybrid stereo imaging technology that ensures stable, high-quality depth data output even in challenging lighting conditions.

Key Features of the Gemini 335 and 335L:

  • Stable, high-quality depth images under various lighting conditions, from direct sunlight to darkroom.
  • Diagonal field of view over 100°, working range beyond 0.2 – 10 meters, global shutter image sensors, high frame rate, low latency, comprehensive and precise sensor synchronization ideal for mobile robotics applications
  • Compact form factor, low power consumption for flexible integration into customer product designs

Ericsson and Dassault

I began this section with an innovative way to design and price a machine. I end with another cool innovation.

Ericsson is known for wireless, 5G cellular private networks and the like. It has partnered with Dassault Systemmes to construct a Digital Twin with Delmia of the network coverage in a plant. They do a LiDar scan of plant to map the plant and its potential steel barriers to signals. They find antennas in the plant with strength of signals and generate a visual map of the plant with colors that show strength of signal. Managers can make better decisions about where they need coverage in a weak spot and do things such as move equipment or racks to provide adequate wireless coverage. The system is also useful for large events.

Automate Report 5: Robots

This report from Automate 2024 consolidates robotic-oriented news from Doosan Robotics, Kassow Robots, InOrbit CoPilot, and Hirebotics. Collaborative Robots, or Cobots, are now just about everywhere. The software for these is innovative, often no-code, and easy-to-use. There is consolidation of the market. It will be interesting to see what next year brings.

Doosan Robotics to Unveil New Cobot

Doosan Robotics unveiled its latest industrial cobot which boasts a 30 kg payload. It also wins the award for the most marketing hype of any press release I received. Parsing through the release, here are a few tidbits.

The P3020 offers a payload of 30kg (60lbs) and reach of 2,030mm (80in), bringing the ability to palletize from floor to 2m high (stacking up to 10 layers of boxes approximately 8 inches tall) using its simple fixed base without a lift.

Additional key features of the P-SERIES cobot lineup include lower power consumption compared to similar payload cobots by applying its built-in gravity compensation mechanism, inherent wrist-singularity free, and a 5 degree-of-freedom movement with the 4th axis removed and 6th axis speed increased to 360 degrees/second. Doosan Robotics’ continued priority on optimal safety across its solutions is also fully present in the new P3020. This includes achieving the highest PL (e) and Cat 4 safety ratings to ensure both a max-powered and max-safety experience for users. 

Dart-Suite an advanced robot ecosystem designed to redefine the way customers utilize Doosan cobots. The scalable platform provides “unlimited” programmable motions, while ensuring accessibility for all.

Kassow Robots launches the world’s first 7-axis cobot series with a controller integrated into the base

With its Edge Edition, Kassow Robots has launched the world’s first 7-axis cobots in which the controller is integrated into the base of the robot. All five of the 7-axis cobots are now available in two versions: the classic variant with a separate controller, and the Edge Edition. Kristian Kassow and his engineering team have succeeded in miniaturizing the controller so that it now only occupies around 10% of the volume of the external controller. The footprint of the Edge edition’s base is compact, measuring only 160 by 200 millimeters. These cobot models are powered by direct current, meaning that they can be directly connected to any DC power supply, for example a battery of mobile robots. There are also easily accessible 60 IO connections. With these new models, the Copenhagen-based cobot manufacturer is making it easier for industrial companies to automate their operations. At the same time, their lightweight robots open up new opportunities for mobile cobot AMR and cobot AGV applications and various space-saving solutions.

InOrbit Unveils RobOps Copilot for AI-Powered Robot Optimization

InOrbit.AI, the leading provider of robot operations (RobOps) solutions, introduced InOrbit RobOps Copilot. This product harnesses the power of artificial intelligence to turn robot operations data into actionable insights in order to optimize autonomous robot fleets.

Leveraging the latest large language models (LLMs), RobOps Copilot enables users to ask questions in their preferred language, get detailed explanations, refine their analysis, and arrive at key optimization decisions, seamlessly transitioning between their favorite messaging platform for casual queries and a fully integrated experience with chat-driven dashboard explorations.

As with the rest of the InOrbit platform, RobOps Copilot works with mixed, distributed robot fleets. InOrbit continues to expand the InOrbit Connect ecosystem, including the ability to define, execute, and analyze missions that support integrations with Warehouse Management Systems, AMRs from different vendors, and Goods-to-Person workflows. One recent addition is support for a novel Automated Storage and Retrieval System developed by Instock, which is now in use at the InOrbit Robot Space in Silicon Valley and will be part of InOrbit’s live remote demonstrations presented at Automate.

Beacon-Powered Hirebotics Cobot Welder

Hirebotics launched support for the new Miller Auto DeltaWeld with their Cobot Welder. The Miller Auto DeltaWeld System is a MIG/Flux-cored, pulsed-capable power source designed for cobots. 

Unlike other cobot solutions, Hirebotics Beacon-powered Cobot Welder lets the user control everything in one place—a simple smartphone/tablet interface. This makes the process easier and faster compared to systems where welders must go back and forth between the teach pendant and the power source. 

Beacon is cloud-based, allowing total remote and local cobot control.

Automate Report 4: Festo Introduces Several New Products

Festo is an innovative company that continuously surprises me with its creativity. This year at Hannover, for example, they displayed a “flock” of bees. At Automate they showed new electric actuators, an I/O platform, and an AI worker collaboration tool.

New Generation of Electric Actuators for Linear Applications

Festo introduced its newest generation of Cartesian-handling-system mechanical axes. The ELGD-TB, tooth belt actuators, and ELGD-BS, ball screw actuators, are based on an innovative Festo design. 

  • Suited to most electromechanical handling tasks, the ELGD series brings specific benefits to applications, such as:
  • Cantilever systems and pick-and-place solutions for small parts handling, where short cycle times, high precision, and repeatability are key
  • Handling systems for top loaders, which benefit from the ELGD’s attractive price/performance ratio, high travel speed, and long stroke lengths
  • Automation of 3D printing, additive manufacturing, dosing, gluing, and picking and placing are enhanced with the ELGD’s dynamic, virtually vibration-free movement.  

Remote and Decentralized I/O Platform

Festo offers both the CPX-AP-A distributed I/O and CPX-AP-I decentralized I/O. 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 is a leader in adopting and applying IO-Link, and customers will find IO-Link capabilities integral to the new I/O automation platform. This I/O platform is ideal for effective conveyor control.

AI worker collaboration training package

At the show, Festo demonstrates a UR3e cobot equipped with an AI-powered camera capable of gesture recognition. This setup enables object tracking, allowing the cobot to pick up items and then hand them to booth visitors. The cobot will be handing out individually wrapped hard candy. The Festo Didactic AI/Machine Learning Worker Collaboration package provides learners with the opportunity to explore neural networks, machine learning, and advanced gripping systems. Festo Didactic incorporated into this demo its 360-degree robotic safety awareness package developed in partnership with SICK.

Automate Report 3: Inductive Automation and Opto 22

While at Automate 2024 I saw Travis Cox of Inductive Automation and Benson Hougland of Opto 22. It was tough seeing them since their booth was always packed. I wound up walking through the show and out into the corridor with them.

These two companies plus Cirrus Link (MQTT and Sparkplug) are perhaps the best partnership combination I’ve seen in my years reporting in this market. Ignition running on Opto’s Groov Epic platform with MQTT and Sparkplug as the communications architecture solve many customer problems.

Hougland told me that they are continuing to build out the Groov platform. And to watch for cool things coming.

Cox told me that the big thing to pay attention to right now from Inductive Automation is the integration with Snowflake (more below). He says the integration keeps improving.

Here is Cox describing the integration at the last Ignition Community Conference:

And well, we got all the community to participate, where they’re basically leveraging Ignition or Ignition Edge or potentially have a smart device that speaks MQTT Sparkplug and they’re gonna build a data model, publish that up to a Chariot broker that’s in the cloud. Real simple. Then we can use the IoT bridge for Snowflake by Cirrus Link and all that data from Sparkplug goes directly into the Snowflake database. We’re showing it on a dashboard within Ignition, but it’s going to Snowflake database as well. And we can easily go and query that data. And we went one step further and we’re actually showing the anomaly detection within the Data Dash. So we’ll do a demonstration of this in just a moment, but wanna show you just how easy it is for this solution. And it’s all something we could do right now. It’s very, very simple to get started with this whole thing. 

What is Snowflake, you may ask. Here is Pugal Janakiraman from Snowflake speaking at ICC 2024:

Snowflake is a globally connected cloud vendor agnostic data platform. It’s one single managed service from Snowflake. We take care of security, we take care of governance, we take care of scalability. And after that, much more cool, your API of choice is still SQL. You don’t have to learn hundreds of new services. You continue to use SQL as a mechanism to leverage data which is present in Snowflake, whether it is around building dashboards or you want to build an AI and ML model or build inference around those models, you still use SQL as an API for doing that.

Snowflake is a cloud-native database. Data can still reside on-premise or it can reside in whatever is your cloud vendor of choice. You can run analytics without the data movement out there. So we provide that kind of collaboration mechanisms. We provide AI and ML-based analytics. This is how the journey started for us. Ignition on Edge with zero coding using Snowpipe Streaming API, send the data to Snowflake. 

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