Seamless connectivity as a guiding principle

16 May 2022

Festo believes a true automation company should offer their customers seamless connectivity from the workpiece to the cloud, across the whole portfolio and independent of technology. Of course, no company can offer the entire needs of a machine builder, but what is offered, should seamlessly fit together, mechanically, electrically, and intelligently.

This principle guides Festo in their portfolio development, ensuring all their products, not only seamlessly work together but also seamlessly work with the world’s most popular networks and machine architectures.  However, from this Spring, Festo are going one step further offering a single product that seamlessly connects to SEVERAL networks, ensuring seamless connectivity also means a reduction in complexity.  

From spring 2022 Festo will combine its popular CMMT-AS servo drives in Profinet, Ethernet IP, EtherCAT and Modbus, into a single multiprotocol drive. This new release reduces the portfolio of this drive from 21-part numbers down to just seven, making selection faster and easier and reducing the stock holding required for machine inventory and spares.

Component availability crisis
Currently, the automation industry is experiencing an unprecedented shortage of supply for materials such as semiconductors, copper, aluminum, and many other materials that were taken for granted only two years ago.  This situation has altered the market dynamics and forced electronic manufacturers, such as Festo, to refocus on products care, altering hardware and software to incorporate components that are more readily available.  With every crisis comes opportunities, and Festo saw this opportunity to accelerate the redevelopment of their successful servo drive the CMMT-AS to incorporate up-to-date electronics that were more available in the market, incorporate multiprotocol functionality and also improve the performance.

The new Multiprotocol drive features a new FPGA (Free Programmable Gate Array) this is used to reduce processing time for the time-critical processes.  For the CMMT-AS drive, it is used to reduce latency in the control-loops, making this product market leading in its ability to reduce oscillation and reduce mismatch between motor and load.

In addition to the performance gains, availability of the new drive will be improved, not just in the current component availability crisis but also longer term.  No company can afford to hold an unlimited inventory, stock costs money and this cost is often reflected in the price of the product.  Reducing the portfolio from 21-part numbers down to seven, by introducing the multiprotocol drive, Festo can hold three time more inventory for the same cost, making availability better for customers.  This advantage is also mirrored at the customer, especially for machine builders who manufacture machines with different networks to suit the needs of their clients.  Now machine builders can hold servo drives in stock irrespective of network and just configure the drive to the right network when needed.  The same advantage can be experienced for spares. 

Seamless software tools
Seamless connectivity should not only be limited to hardware. Selecting and integrating products should also be a seamless journey for users.  Festo have developed a new simple sizing tool allowing engineers to input a handful of parameters for their application, either connected to a linear actuator, or the motor standalone in a rotary application.  The customer then immediately receives the 5 most optimum solutions and offers immediate motor curves, motion curves, immediate transfer to the Festo online basket and even full commissioning files, precalculated for download. The Electric Motion Sizing tool is online and can be found at www.festo.com/EMS.

The seamless journey continues with commissioning.  The Festo Automation Suite (FAS) allows commissioning engineers to configure all products from remote IO to Pneumatic Valve Terminals, PLCs and Servo drives in a single free tool. The commissioning files can be directly imported from Electric Motion Sizing and FAS automatically connects to the Festo cloud to download project specific documentation and updates within the software. It even incorporates CoDeSys programming language for PLCs and Motion controllers.

Seamless connectivity does not just apply to Servo Drives from Festo.  The CPX-AP-I remote IO system from Festo allows users to use exactly the same decentralised digital and analogue blocks, IO link masters and valve terminals, irrespective of the industrial network selected.  This is thanks to the AP backplane running throughout the entire system.  The user only selects a required bus network node and then can connect up to 80 different IO modules and still maintain a data rate of 200 Mbaud in real time.  This performance allows true connectivity from the workpiece to the cloud, allowing Festo Simplified Motion Series actuators to be connected via IO link through the entire network to the cloud passing real application data for maintenance or AI applications.  Furthermore, standard cables up to 15m long mean an entire installation from a single network node could stretch an impressive 1.2km. 

Irrespective of your choice of network or PLC, visit Festo in Hall 6 Stand C22 at the Hannover fair from 30th May until 2nd June to witness seamless connectivity with tools, Remote IO, Sensors Drives and controllers.


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