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FAST goes Robotic – Lenze launches modules with a fully-fledged robotics core

When it comes to modular, standardised and reusable software for mechanical engineers, Lenze leads the field. The Motion Centric Automation specialist is supplementing its FAST application software toolbox with complete, ready-made modules for robotics. These modules make it extremely easy to integrate robots into an overall automation system and control them accordingly during operation of the equipment. Lenze supplies technology modules e.g. for pick & place applications, as well as the corresponding coordinate transformation software for different kinematics. A powerful robotics core offering six degrees of freedom is already integrated into each module and is a real innovation. It ensures maximum freedom in path planning by means of PLCopen Part 4 and, at the same time, enables the execution of pick & place movements simply by means of parameterisation and without any knowledge of robotics. Lenze has combined its robotics and motion perfectly in its FAST robotics modules. Proprietary systems and complex interface programming are no longer necessary.

Lenze divides robotics into kinematics and path planning. The geometric calculation of the robot, the kinematic model, was integrated with an universal method of coordinate transformation in the core in collaboration with universities. As a result, customised kinematics can be represented quickly and efficiently without any previous knowledge of robotics. Lenze offers integrated kinematic modules for Delta2, Delta3, buckling arm and SCARA robots as well as for different kinds of gantry robot. In addition to the up to six main axes, auxiliary axes can be programmed, as a result of which especially speed-dependent processes such as glue application or welding-head guidance are easy to implement and all types of tool can be operated at the TCP (ToolCenterPoint). Synchronisation of the robot to a conveyor belt is also possible, for example for the purpose of grasping moving objects.

The path planning is based on the PLCopen Part 4 standard. The robotics core supports the classical motion commands: linear, circular, spline and point-to-point. These motion commands in accordance with PLCopen Part4 are available in an IEC61131 programming environment. With the PLCopen functionalities "Buffer Mode" and "Blending", functions such as "Look-Ahead" and motion smoothing can be implemented. In order to satisfy the specific robotics requirements, Lenze has added some specific functions to the PLCopen set of commands.

The path can therefore be planned independently of the kinematics. The robot is not told how to move until the kinematic model has been assigned to the motion-producing modules. The major benefit of this is that, if the kinematics change, the complete program can be retained. It is only necessary to enter the relevant parameters and reprogramming can be dispensed with.

The FAST technology module "Pick & Place" encapsulates path planning completely. The mechanical engineer therefore does not have to be concerned with triggering motion commands or programming the path; he/she only has to configure the handling parameters. This is a very easy way for him/her to initiate a pick & place movement simply by stipulating the target position and the necessary picking heights.

As for every FAST technology module, a visualisation system for testing purposes is provided in PLC Designer, the Lenze development tool. This is also extremely easy to use. For a pick & place movement, the customer only has to choose the kinematic model, and then call up and parameterise the technology module in the program in order to start the pick & place process. Thanks to FAST, a complex pick & place movement is as easy to position as a single-axis movement. Also included in the module are the gripper control system and possible holding points in case a place to put the workpiece is not yet vacant.