Robot systems at YASKAWA: today and tomorrow
Besides standardized interfaces and the networked management of systems and processes, the automated manufacture of a single product according to individual specifications is also a key requirement of Industrie 4.0. YASKAWA is facing these challenges with intelligent control and software concepts, as well as new and efficient robot models.
The terms “Built-to-order”, “Remote monitoring” and “Customised production” have never been more relevant in Industrie 4.0. The implementation of complex products in batch size 1, as well as the smallest series, presents an enormous challenge in the automation of the respective processes. In order to convert the layout and function to a new product, the production line must be highly flexible. This form of individualization of automatically manufactured products has hitherto been undermined by high unit labour costs. With the aid of modern robots, the different product versions can now be integrated into the normal manufacturing process without decreasing returns to scale.
In the MotoMINI demo cell, for example, developed as a concept study, new miniature robots demonstrate the potential of individualized manufacturing (building-to-order) in the assembly of model cars. The customer can use a tablet to create a construction plan, and the production of the desired cars starts in an instant automatically. Additionally, the current performance of all components and sensors can be monitored in real time within the production line.
MotoLogix interface generation for robot control by PLC
If industrial robots are employed on a larger scale than with the MotoMINI, their interaction with production machines and control environments will gain in significance. For a long time the two worlds – robot and machine control – had to be separately programmed, controlled and maintained. This conventional interplay of robots and machines is still possible, but meanwhile out of date in the light of new technical advances. YASKAWA offers an efficient alternative: with MotoLogix MOTOMAN robots can be quickly and easily programmed and controlled by PLC in the customary IEC-61131 environment. In addition to Profinet, the Ethernet/IP and Powerlink platforms have now been approved for Siemens environments.
Due to integration into the PLC, all the genuine advantages of robot control are maintained. The robot controller calculates the motion kinematics and guarantees high quality of movement. In other words: YASKAWA know-how can still be guaranteed when it comes to exact motion sequences of the manipulators. This applies in particular to all kinds of handling, such as machine loading, picking, packaging, placing, palletizing and measuring, testing and sorting, where these robots and respective controls can demonstrate their strengths. The simple integration of robot controls in the PLC pays off not only in the operation of complex production plants. With MotoLogix PLC know-how suffices for the control of robots. This obviates the need to seek robot-trained personnel or the expense of retraining staff for the purpose. YASKAWA robots can thus be operated worldwide under the same conditions.
The next step in the implementation of integrated control concepts is the networked management of systems and processes. In Japan and Europe, Yaskawa is presently working on the respective integrated, software-based solutions.
New robot models
Having said this, efficient robot models continue to be the technical basis for such pioneering automation solutions. One example is the MOTOMAN GP series from YASKAWA. “GP” stands for “General Purpose” and thus for multiple applications. This compact and extremely fast GP series of handling robots was developed for particularly fast joining, packaging and general handling applications. With payloads of 7, 8, 12 and 25 kg, the new 6-axis robots are the fastest in their class and thus true productivity drivers.
Like the first GP series of models, the latest development GP25 was also designed with wrist axes (R, B, T) in protection class IP67. Without further modification it can also be used in rugged environments for handling and other automation tasks.
Their slim and compact design permits the manipulators to delve deep into the workspace, and the smooth surfaces facilitate the cleaning of GP robots. Only one robot cable is required for the connection between the manipulator and controller. The benefits of this solution lie in less wear and reduced space requirements. The spare parts inventory and maintenance costs are likewise reduced.
The GP series of robots is controlled by the new high performance MOTOMAN YRC1000 controller. With its open interfaces the new controller generation is predestined for use in Industrie 4.0 environments. The extremely compact controls with a cabinet volume of only 125 litres permit optimum use of the available space. The product portfolio is rounded off by a wide range of additional cabinets in the same design.
Yaskawa extends MotoLogix software interface
Robot programming now with EtherCAT connection
The software interface MotoLogix enables Yaskawa Motoman robots to be quickly and easily programmed and controlled via PLC in the standard IEC-61131 environment. Now Yaskawa has broadened the spectrum of supported platforms to include the EtherCAT standard. Above and beyond EtherCAT, integrated solutions on the basis of POWERLINK, EtherNet/IP and PROFINET are still possible with MotoLogix. Robots can thus be programmed and controlled with controllers from Siemens, Beckhoff, B&R, Rockwell – and, of course, Yaskawa.
After integration into the PLC all genuine advantages of robot control are retained. The robot controller calculates the movement kinematics and ensures high quality of movement. This means that Yaskawa know-how when it comes to exact motion sequences of the manipulators is still guaranteed. This is where the strong points of these robots and respective controllers come to the fore, particularly in all forms of handling, such as machine loading, picking, packaging, placing, palletizing or measuring, testing and sorting.
The simple integration of the robot controller into the PLC pays off not only in the operation of complex production systems. The choice of MotoLogix means that PLC expertise will suffice for the control of robots. It is no longer necessary to search for personnel trained in robotics or to spend money on retraining staff. Yaskawa robots can thus be operated worldwide under the same conditions.
Robotic Arc Welding installation with seam tracking and tilted column
AAF required a solution to automate the welding of large hoppers. These hoppers needed to be welded both internally and externally and therefore a solution was required that could reach practically any point on a part requiring welding and that also enabled automatic rotation of the hoppers. Until then, AAF welded and rotated parts manually. The standard gantry solution did not facilitate access to all necessary welding points.
The solution is based on a welding cell with two work stations enabling welding in one or the other independently, while in the second station the operator may load and unload the part.
This cell is also composed of a longitudinal track with an effective run of 10,600 mm and an tilted column to elevate the robot to different heights while being able to approach the part and the different welding points, both internal and externally.
Additionally, 2 positioners in each work station enable full rotation of the hopper.
The solution provided by Yaskawa facilitates increased production cycles by reducing handling and welding times due to the two independent work stations, offering a more technically suited system with greater reach than the gantry solution.
Using the solution provided by YASKAWA, AAF has achieved a reduction in welding time from 4h to 1h per unit.
Furthermore, AAF is currently using the installation for the welding of other parts even larger than the initial hoppers.