Visual machine robot integrationClick image to enlarge

B&R, a unit of ABB’s Robotics and Discrete Automation business, has announced the integration of ABB robots into its automation portfolio.

ABB says that merging robotics with machine control into a unified architecture will enable manufacturers to embrace mass customization and optimize their lot size one processes.

Fully integrating ABB’s robots into its automation systems will enable B&R to supply machine builders with machine automation and robotics from a single source. Machine builders will be able to buy their robots from B&R along with all the required control, I/O and drive components.

“The integration of ABB’s robot fleet into the B&R portfolio makes us a true one-stop-shop,” said Sami Atiya, president of ABB’s Robotics and Discrete Automation business. “This will help manufacturers increase their flexibility, at all levels including machines, to support shorter product cycles and to make much smaller lots of greater variety,”

Machine builders will be able to choose from a range of ABB robots, including articulated arm, SCARA, delta and palletizer robots in various sizes and with various payloads. This is particularly important for machine applications where a high degree of synchronization with other components is required, for example with picking solutions. With ABB robots integrated into the machine automation system, customers will benefit from improved synchronization between robotics and machine control. Since the robot will no longer require a dedicated controller, all interfaces between the machine and the robot are eliminated, while the fact that all axes and sensors will now communicate on a common network increases precision into the microsecond range.

Integrating robotics and automation also means only one controller and one engineering system will be needed for development, diagnostics and maintenance, so there will no longer be a need for an extra control cabinet just for the robot, which will save floor space.

Programming is another area that benefits from combining robotics with machine control. Instead of programming a robotics application in one development environment and a machine application in another, there will only be one application and one development environment. This will help to reduce development times. With the ready-made software components of mapp Technology, developers can quickly set up and configure the machine application, including robotics, without any knowledge of special robotics languages.

Synchronization between sensors and robot motion will also become easier with integration. The result of a quality inspection with a B&R vision camera can be converted into a control command for the ABB robot in less than a millisecond, so defective workpieces can be removed from the production process without manual intervention or slowing the manufacturing process.

The machine builder no longer needs to use separate hardware, communication networks and applications, and so is able to achieve much tighter synchronization between the robot and other machine components. The movement of the robot and all of the machine's motion control axes can be coordinated more precisely, boosting productivity and process output.

The robots are programmed in B&R's universal engineering environment just like all other automation components, while in the digital twin the user can simulate and optimize the machine's entire motion sequence, including the robotics, before the machine is built. This makes engineering and development faster while reducing cost, lowering the threshold for machine builders looking to implement robotics in their production machinery and increasing their ROI.

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