Rockwell Automation’s Independent Cart Technology (ICT) is revolutionizing the transport track systems field, enabling precise motion control with frictionless propulsion. Independence of motion is key for mass customization as it allows for flexibility, reduction of bottlenecks, and improved performance. However, this mechanical freedom comes at a cost, since providing real-time data connectivity for sensors and actuators on the movers becomes extremely challenging. The independence provided to the movers through ICT enables many benefits in a variety of applications, yet onboard automation on the movers opens the potential for additional, significant benefits from using ICT.
Enabling real-time control through inclusion of IO-Link Wireless on the movers provides an additional level of independence, as products may be processed while in constant motion in an agile and synchronized manner. It simplifies production, not only in conveying the products across the machine but also in adapting the actual production process to accommodate changing customer needs. Changeover and tooling setup time is minimized, enabling a broad range of product types per machine, and reducing the cost and time to market of applying new product types and designs. The machine footprint and maintenance overhead are reduced due to the reduction of cables, chains, belts, mechanical components, and additional external automation accessories. Communication with the movers also enables condition-monitoring capabilities and predictive maintenance.
Real-time control requires industrial-grade connectivity. Until recently, wired connectivity was a given for factory automation because its high reliability and low latency enabled machine control as well as monitoring. But using cables in an independent mover transport track system is practically impossible. A wireless communication solution is needed, but traditional wireless technologies like Wi-Fi, Zigbee, and Bluetooth lack reliability and latency for control on the movers. They are simply not designed to meet the strict requirements for ultra-reliable, low-latency, and scalable communication.
The solution available today that was designed for and meets the need of that type of wireless automation is IO-Link Wireless. IO-Link Wireless was developed as a global wireless communication standard to replace cables in both real-time sensor/actuator control and monitoring for factory automation. Based on the IO-Link IEC 61131-9 standard, it is a system extension to the already established IO-Link-based technology. IO-Link Wireless offers industrial-grade, high reliability with deterministic low latency, robustness, and scalability to support high density and throughput of wirelessly controlled devices.
CoreTigo, a Rockwell Automation Technology Partner, provides a solution that enables high-performance IO-Link Wireless communication on ICT systems. Each mover is equipped with an IO-Link Wireless Multiport Hub (TigoHub) which enables multiple sensors and actuators connectivity on the mover itself. The IO-Link Wireless Master (TigoMaster) communicates wirelessly with the devices on the movers and connects to the PLC for automation control and to Internet of Things and enterprise IT-level servers for data monitoring. CoreTigo’s unique antenna solution is a key component for ICT integration. It enables a highly reliable, scalable, and secure solution that can support communication to hundreds of movers and devices wirelessly. It does this while in constant motion in a contained machine or workcell area with multiple ICT systems. Power may also be inductively supplied to the mover using a Contactless Power System from VAHLE, also a Rockwell Automation Technology Partner. VAHLE creates systems for contactless energy transmission to provide mobile movers with the required power at an ultra-small footprint and low weight. Thus, machine builders gain the degree of freedom to equip the movers with sensors actuators while still carrying the required payload. The combination of CoreTigo’s IO-Link Wireless devices and the inductive power technology enables an entirely cable-free power and sensing solution for ICT.
End user Cloostermans has started using CoreTigo’s solution two years ago with a vision to create a powerful combination of wireless power and communication on top of the Rockwell Automation ICT systems. Today, Cloostermans provides the biggest integration of wireless ICT systems, with over 300 devices working synchronized in one machine. If you are designing a new transport system, now is the time to make it even more independent and adaptive with an industrial wireless solution that enables real-time control and monitoring while in constant motion, without limitations. Talk to your Rockwell Automation Sales Executive or Regional CoreTigo contact to learn more.