Schmalz adapting digital factories to vacuum technology
Electrical vacuum generators, grippers and compact ejectors must provide digital energy and process data in real time in order to be visible to the smart factory. Schmalz creates a foundation for networked manufacturing by integrating interfaces such as IO-Link, Ethernet and NFC in its vacuum components, as indicated in the picture below.
Cyber-physical systems link real objects with virtual objects, such as machines with information processing systems. Unlike the automation wave via electronics that started in the 1970s, the new system is based on cross-system communication, enabling energy, process control and predictive maintenance. The electronic vacuum generator ECBPi with IO-Link and NFC was developed to carry out stationary handling tasks using collaborative robots (cobots), as shown in the picture below.
The Schmalz GmbH vacuum components are designed for networking in vacuum automation, capturing energy and performance-related data and storing it in the cloud. Once the data is transferred to an external cloud, it is processed and analysed, with the system communicating errors or subtle changes to the user.
The IO-Link and Industrial Ethernet interfaces facilitate communication on smart field devices between the sensor and actuator level to the high-level controller (PLC), with communication occurring in both directions. With this technology, the controller can also change parameters and transfer them to the intelligent field device.
The vacuum components also contain an NFC interface (near field communication), to exchange information wirelessly over short distances. This is achieved through connecting the smart field device and an NFC-enabled mobile device, via point-to-point coupling.
A built-in coil in the component provides an energy source for transmission, and is activated via smartphone. The coil allows the user to retrieve process data and maintenance and service information via smartphone, transmitting information through an antenna. The device communicates with the user in a straightforward manner, as opposed to conveying data and information through cryptic error codes. Smartphones can also be used to parameterise the component with the Schmalz ControlRoom app. Parameter changes that were performed via NFC can be transferred directly to the device or copied from one device to another.
The compact terminal SCPSi consolidates up to 16 separate vacuum generators into a single compact unit with one electrical connection and one compressed air connection. Cyclical process data is also used to control the ejectors and receive current information from the SCPSi. The vacuum component’s diagnostic and prognosis functions provide information and identify trends in quality and performance.
The range of functions available in the Schmalz vacuum components allows the user to avoid machine standstills, thereby increasing system availability. The vacuum components also come with an IODD (IO Device Description) file, which contains information about identification, device parameters, process and diagnostic data and communication properties. Swapping devices is simplified through the IO-Link log, enabling automatic data transfers. When establishing a new device, the setting parameters for the old device are automatically saved in the new device by the master.
With the compact terminal SCPSi, users benefit from rapid commissioning, reliable operation and minimised risk of downtime. Schmalz also provides an electronic vacuum pressure switch VSi, which measures and monitors underpressure and overpressure in automation and handling systems.
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