Addressing global megatrends with seamless connectivity

13 October 2020

Notwithstanding the current COVID crisis, other megatrends are having, and will have, an even greater effect on the manufacturers of the future. Nigel Dawson from Festo SE & Co KG discusses how these opportunities can be exploited.

Digitalisation: The use of AI, Cloud integration and digital twins are growing. However, for these to be effective, there first needs to be creation and transportation of big data. Festo recognises this requirement and has recently released a larger connectivity portfolio to assist customers.

The new Simplified Motion Series (SMS) incorporates IO-Link in a drive/motor/actuator combination that is as simple to use as a pneumatic cylinder. The system guarantees diagnostic and control data can be connected from the workpiece all the way to the cloud. Unlike a pneumatic cylinder, constant position data, power and diagnostics can be analysed and communicated seamlessly to the cloud via IO-Link and OPC-UA.

To connect the IO-Link actuator to the PLC, the new Remote IO system from Festo, CPX-AP-I, incorporates both IO-Link and the new Automation Platform (AP) protocol. The speed of this system at 200Mbaud, allows a huge amount of data to be transported, and the ability to separate cyclic and big data ensures application logic remains unaffected even when transporting enormous amounts of data. In addition, the system allows smart functions like cable quality monitoring. These systems offer seamless connectivity to many PLCs by covering the major networks like Profinet, EtherCAT and EtherNet/IP and even incorporate pneumatic Valve Terminals into the same system ensuring data capture from the solenoid valves. 

Individualisation: Consumer demand for customised products leads to increased individualised production right down to lot size one but with the need to do this cost effectively. For this, the SMS electric actuator series allows adjustable forces and stroke lengths to increase flexibility and batch changes with IO-Link functionality. Festo’s new range of servo drives and motors (CMMT/EMMT) offer seamless connectivity across all leading networks. Additionally, as Europe’s leading electromechanical axis supplier, mechanical connectivity, allows easy and flexible high-performance motion for individualised production. When these drives are combined with the soft motion enabled motion controller and the IoT gateway from Festo, high performance linear motion can be both controlled and diagnosed from the cloud.

The IoT gateway from Festo allows secure communication both from and to the cloud. This ensures that custom batch sizes and product information can be communicated seamlessly from customer orders to the machine, ensuring error free batch change and individualisation down to a lot size of 1 without human intervention.

Climate change: In industrial automation it is no secret that pneumatic motion is considered less efficient than electric motion. However, this is not always true – in many vertical applications the power consumed by pneumatics is less than that of electric motion. 

Festo combats this challenge by being technology neutral. By offering both electrical and pneumatic motion in portfolios of control and actuators complete with online tools for selection, customers can always choose the optimum product for the application performance and energy efficiency. Both portfolios combine the same connectivity through the IoT gateway to the cloud, allowing customers to monitor the energy consumption of their entire machine. 

The CMMT range of servo drives from Festo offer the same connectivity and control architecture from 24v DC all the way to 415v AC. This ensures that the energy efficiency of the application can be optimised with a mix and match approach to drive selection. Low voltage and extra low voltage drives can be combined in the same application and connected in the same way. Many servo drives in automation are oversized, increasing costs and power consumption, this approach from Festo solves this challenge.

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