Automated Robotic Inspection Cells for 3D Measurement

This news brings together things I’m interested in (robotic, automated) with things on my peripheral (3D measurement). It should be interested to all of you within the discrete manufacturing market. Note: they use the term “revolutionalising” (British English), I am more cautious using that term.

Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division has announced the launch of PRESTO System – an innovative modular suite of automated robotic inspection cells revolutionising the landscape of 3D measurement for automotive and aerospace manufacturing. PRESTO System builds on the foundation of its turnkey PRESTO quality inspection cell to provide manufacturers a future-proof system that sets a new standard for scalable, versatile, and seamlessly integrated automated quality inspection.

PRESTO System empowers manufacturers to become more agile with automated robotic programming that enables a single quality control specialist to create, test and deploy robust robotic inspection in hours. The deployed cells are highly flexible and accessible to all levels of expertise – an operator can safely load and inspect one part then another simply by selecting the correct part to inspect from the control panel. At a time where skills shortages are impeding daily operations for many manufacturers, the integrated robotic system eliminates repetitive manual setup and calibration processes, enabling teams to work more effectively and focus on operational excellence and halving total inspection time compared other modern inspection technologies.

Some features:

  • Hexagon’s Absolute Scanner AS1 combined with absolute positioning from the Leica Absolute Tracker AT960.
  • Blue laser line technology – PRESTO is the first Hexagon turnkey inspection cell to utilise the most advanced and intuitive method for capturing a rich and complete digital representation of both the key features and surfaces.
  • SHINE technology that ensures effortless measurement of reflective surfaces, eliminating the need for part preparation.
  • Sophisticated robotic automation software that utilises a digital twin to simulate and programme complete inspection programmes offline, and to coordinate the real time execution of all processes for repeatable and uninterrupted operations.
  • Full integration and coordination of all systems, from robotic actuation to metrology scanning, enabling near-line inspection at higher speeds, in total safety.

The modularity of the PRESTO System provides flexible deployment, enabling manufacturers to rapidly scale their quality inspection capacity in alignment with their business needs. Once the first cell is deployed, additional modules can be added with short lead times and rapid installation. This scalability not only enhances operational agility – the standardised single-vendor solution also helps businesses to optimise their investment strategies by facilitating upgrades and enhancements rather than replacement.

Siemens Have Made Many Interesting Automation Announcements

I received many releases regarding automation from Siemens resulting from the Hannover Messe last month. They presented them to assembled press, analysts, and blogger this week at Automate in Chicago. These are all pretty cool.

  • Siemens Industrial Copilot with Generative AI
  • Spatial Computing Electrical Training for Apple Vision Pro
  • Simatic S7-1200 G2—a new generation of controller

Siemens Xcelerator: Scaling roll-out of generative AI with Siemens Industrial Copilot

  • Siemens makes automation easy with the first generative AI-powered product for engineering in an industrial environment
  • Siemens Industrial Copilot accelerates the generation of complex automation code, reduces development times, and increases productivity
  • TIA Portal connection offers customers SCL code generation, customization of HMI visualization, and document search in natural language
  • Available for download from the Siemens Xcelerator marketplace starting in summer 2024

The Siemens Industrial Copilot, the generative AI-powered assistant, is now seamlessly connected to the Totally Integrated Automation (TIA) Portal. This will enable engineering teams to find the right help topic and to generate a basic visualization and code faster for programmable logic controllers (PLC). As a result, they will be able to significantly reduce their workload and offload repetitive tasks to the Siemens Industrial Copilot. In addition, the engineering of complex tasks will become less susceptible to errors. This in turn reduces development times and boosts quality and productivity over the long term. The Siemens Industrial Copilot for TIA Portal Engineering will be available for download from the Siemens Xcelerator marketplace starting in summer 2024. 

Siemens and BILT Launch Spatial Computing Electrical Training for Apple Vision Pro

  • Siemens leverages BILT on Apple Vision Pro to provide immersive step-by-step guided instruction for electricians
  • BILT becomes newest Siemens Xcelerator Ecosystem partner
  • BILT spatial computing app on Apple Vision Pro available at Hannover Messe tradeshow

Siemens and BILT, the creators of 3D Intelligent Instructions, are optimizing their mobile guides into spatial models for Apple Vision Pro. As the need for skilled electricians and other trades grows, training the entering workforce, while up-skilling the existing one, is essential. Tools such as BILT on Apple Vision Pro provide a highly immersive and visual training experience that helps users not only learn faster, but safer. 

Siemens’ first product assembly and installation guides available on BILT on Apple Vision Pro include Siemens Smart Infrastructure’s Class 14 NEMA motor starter, designed to control and protect motors applied in industrial processes, and the P5 Power Distribution Panel. 

To further the partnership and accelerate applications globally, BILT will become the newest addition to Siemens’ Xcelerator Ecosystem and Marketplace. Siemens Xcelerator, an open digital business platform and powerful ecosystem of partners, is where industrial clients from around the world can look for solutions that suit their needs. As part of Siemens Xcelerator, BILT will now be available as a turnkey solution to accelerate digital transformation and learning easier, faster and at scale. 

A new generation of controller with Simatic S7-1200 G2

  • Simatic S7-1200 G2 will be available in winter 2024
  • Key benefits include efficient motion control, flexible machine safety, increased performance, and seamless scalability

For the first time in ten years, Siemens is announcing a new generation of controllers, available in winter of 2024, at Hannover Messe 2024. The Simatic S7-1200 G2 controllers are part of the Simatic controller family. 

The new controllers help bridge the worlds of operational technology (OT) and information technology (IT). The controllers’ high communication performance and efficient data processing increase production output. By connecting the controllers to IT systems, it is also possible to use advanced data analysis, for example in the cloud.

The new controllers are part of Siemens Xcelerator, allowing customers to benefit from the standardized engineering approach in the TIA Portal. The Simatic S7-1200 G2 controller generation enables customers to address major challenges, such as productivity, flexibility, and cost optimization. 

The new range of controllers combines integrated motion control functionalities with space-saving and flexible machine safety solutions.

For example, the S7-1200 G2 controllers make it possible for machine builders to control multiple coordinated axes and simple kinematics. Customers experience increased performance capabilities thanks to improved processing power, dedicated communication performance and more memory, as well as Near Field Communication (NFC) functionality with in-app access to diagnostic, operational, and device data. Plain text diagnostic information about the entire programmable logic controller (PLC) station reduces machine downtime and gives users quick access to data. 

ISASecure Issues First Security Level 3 Certifications for ISA/IEC 62443 Cybersecurity Standards

I haven’t had word from ISA for quite some time. And especially the cybersecurity certification program. This news concerns GE Power Conversion’s HPCi Controller achieving cybersecurity Security Level 3 certificates of conformance. Congratulations.

The International Society of Automation (ISA) announced that its ISASecure cybersecurity certification program has issued the world’s first Security Level 3 (SL3) certificates of conformance. The ISASecure program certifies conformance to the ISA/IEC 62443 series of internationally recognized automation and control systems cybersecurity standards.

Among the first automation products to achieve this challenging security classification is GE Power Conversion’s HPCi Controller.

“We are pleased to see GE taking a leadership role in securing automation that affects our everyday lives,” said Andre Ristaino, managing director, ISA conformity assessment programs. “Securing products to SL3 surpasses the minimum SL2 needed to defend against intentional cyber attacks.”

The ISASecure SL3 certification provides confidence to GE Power Conversion customers that the HPCi Controller is free of known cybersecurity vulnerabilities and is robust against network attacks, and independently confirms conformance to ISA/IEC 62443-4-2 SL3 security requirements. This is the world’s first ISASecure CSA 1.0.0 Level 3 certification.

Following soon after GE, Bitron Electronics also completed the necessary requirements to pass the SL3 certification evaluation, making Bitron the second supplier to achieve this advanced certification level under the ISASecure certification scheme.

“With two SL3 certifications already complete, these certifications further demonstrate the marketplace’s growing acceptance of the ISASecure ISA/IEC 62443 conformance scheme as the leading certification scheme on the market today,” said Brandon Price, senior principal for industrial cybersecurity at ExxonMobil and ISASecure board chair.

Companies that choose to achieve higher levels of certification understand how to apply the ISA/IEC 62443 standards and recognize the value of protections and assurances they provide to their end-user customers. As the need for advanced security protection grows, ISASecure certifications – recognized and accepted globally – continue to be the most sought-after certification specified by end users.

ISASecure recently published a whitepaper describing the value of securing automation and control systems to SL2 or higher. “The Case for ISA/IEC 62443 Security Level 2 as a Minimum for COTS Components” is available for download on the ISASecure website.

System-on-Module for Next-gen Computer Vision Applications

Computer vision technology and application seemed to have been in a long lull until semiconductor advances of the past few years. Now companies are unleashing new products at an astonishing pace. This is an updated product from Digi International—a company I covered a long time ago who became less interesting to me and now has returned to my view.

Digi International introduced the wireless and highly power-efficient Digi ConnectCore MP25 system-on-module (SOM) at Embedded World 2024. Featuring AI and machine learning capabilities, with an integrated neural processing unit and image signal processor, Digi ConnectCore MP25 is designed for next-generation computer vision applications in critical sectors such as industrial, medical, energy and transportation. The module provides highly reliable wireless connectivity and time-sensitive networking (TSN) making it perfect for smart portable devices and Industry 4.0.

Based on STMicroelectronics’ STM32MP25 MPU processor, Digi ConnectCore MP25 is engineered to streamline application development under demanding requirements to improve efficiency, reduce costs, boost innovation and improve end-customer satisfaction.

With an innovative architecture, Digi ConnectCore MP25 features two Cortex-A35 cores operating at 1.5GHz supplemented by a Cortex-M33 core and a Cortex-M0+. Enhanced with an AI/ML neural processing unit (NPU) delivering 1.35 TOPS and an image signal processor (ISP), the SOM provides accelerated machine learning capabilities for advanced applications. Its comprehensive connectivity options include 802.11ac Wi-Fi 5 and Bluetooth 5.2 wireless technologies, along with seamless cellular integration for expanded possibilities. The ultra-compact Digi SMTplus form-factor (30 x 30 mm) and industrial temperature ranges (-40 to +85 °C), ensure reliability in the harshest environments, making it an excellent choice for a wide variety of IoT applications.

Emerson Adds Software to its DeltaV Automation Platform

Emerson has gone through a process of divesting companies and adding others, such as NI (nee National Instruments) becoming overall more of an automation company. Much like years ago when Rockwell shed aerospace and trucks and other industries becoming Rockwell Automation.

Its tagline in press releases for some time has included software as an emphasis. Now, they’ve announced the new DeltaV Automation Platform adds SCADA, MES and operations management software technologies. The idea is to promote smarter, safer, optimized and more sustainable operations.

One of my more popular podcasts asked the question why industrial technology vendors are moving to software.

As part of its Boundless Automation vision for helping organizations deliver more seamless operations, global automation technology and software leader Emerson is evolving its DeltaV brand into the DeltaV Automation Platform. The newly expanded automation platform will include supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems, manufacturing execution systems (MES) and operations management software alongside the distributed control (DCS) and safety systems (SIS) and other technologies that have been part of the brand for decades. The evolution builds a more comprehensive automation platform to make it easier for users to deliver smarter, safer, more optimized and more sustainable operations.

Organizations across nearly every industry including life sciences, specialty chemical, mining and extraction, food and beverage, energy and more are experiencing new complexities as they face the modern challenge of improving throughput, performance and quality while simultaneously increasing sustainability of operations. Navigating this increased complexity requires seamless mobility of data, reliable performance and advanced control strategies from the plant floor to the corporate boardroom. The comprehensive nature of the new DeltaV Automation Platform will empower users to move away from “plant-by-plant” strategies to “site-by-site” or even enterprise automation solutions—the more advanced, integrated automation strategies that are increasingly necessary to compete in a complex global marketplace.

This, of course, is an ideal way to perpetuate, and indeed increase, vendor lock-in of its customers. Why go anywhere else for all your hardware and software needs?

“In an era of increased demand and higher sustainability targets, today’s organizations are looking for ways to manage and contextualize data across the many software solutions they use to help unlock easier, faster and safer decisions,” said Nathan Pettus, president of Emerson’s process systems and solutions business. “The DeltaV Automation Platform will combine a flexible, fit-for-purpose portfolio of DCS, SIS, SCADA, MES and operations management software with unmatched application and cross-industry expertise to help cross-functional teams across the enterprise more easily achieve their goals.”

With an extensive portfolio unified under one brand, users will have access to a comprehensive technology ecosystem that provides a broader suite of solutions. Organizations will more quickly and easily find the right solutions to meet their specific needs and will gain easier access to service, training and support.

All solutions in the DeltaV Automation Platform will be seamlessly supported through the Guardian digital customer experience. 

AI Comes to Vision Software

Vision software for guiding robots news goes along with the burst of robot news. In this case, AI meets vision software. 

AI software company Micropsi Industries today announced MIRAI 2, the latest generation of its AI-vision software for robotic automation. MIRAI 2 comes with five new features that enhance manufacturers’ ability to reliably solve automation tasks with variance in position, shape, color, lighting or background. 

What sets the MIRAI 2 AI-Vision Software apart from traditional vision solutions is the ability to operate with real factory data without the need for CAD data, controlled light, visual-feature predefinition or extensive knowledge of computer vision.

Gary Jackson, CEO of Micropsi Industries, noted, “Recognizing the complexities of implementing advanced AI in robotic systems, we’ve assembled expert teams that combine our in-house talent with select system integration partners to ensure that our customers’ projects are supported successfully, no matter how complex the requirements.”

MIRAI is an advanced AI-vision software system that enables robots to dynamically respond to varying conditions within their factory environment, including variance in position, shape, color, lighting and background. What sets MIRAI apart from traditional vision solutions is the ability to operate with real factory data without the need for CAD data, controlled light, visual-feature predefinition or extensive knowledge of computer vision.

The five new features that will be available to MIRAI 2 users are:

Robot skill-sharing: This new feature allows users to share skills between multiple robots, at the same site or elsewhere. If conditions are identical (lighting, background, etc.), very little or no additional training is required in additional installations. MIRAI can also handle small differences in conditions by recording data from multiple installations into a single, robust skill. 

Semi-automatic data recording: Semi-automatic training allows users to record episodes (of data) for skills without having to hand-guide the robot, reducing the workload on users and increasing the quality of the recorded data. MIRAI can now automatically record all the relevant data—users only need to prepare the training situations and corresponding robot target poses.

No F/T sensor: Training and running skills is now possible without ever connecting a Force/Torque sensor. This reduces cost, simplifies tool geometry and cabling setup, and overall makes skill applications more robust and easier to train.

Abnormal condition detection: MIRAI can now be configured to stop skills when unexpected conditions are encountered, allowing users to handle these exceptions in their robot program or alert a human operator.

Industrial PC: The MIRAI software can now be run on a selection of industrial-grade hardware for higher dependability in rough factory conditions.

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