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Innovative manufacturing concepts for future mobility concepts

The automotive industry is the most important industrial sector in Germany. After years of internationalization and global boom, the industry keeps facing new challenges. Increased environmental awareness and calls for more sustainability necessitate rethinking, which is reflected in concepts for smart mobility, among other things. This is accompanied by technological change that confronts automobile manufacturers and suppliers with high cost pressure as well as constantly increasing productivity and quality demands.

PC- and EtherCAT-based automation technology from Beckhoff provides the automotive industry with solutions for optimizing all production processes. Due to its high performance, modular design and precisely scalable capacity, the technology is suitable as a universal hardware and software platform for controlling individual machines and indeed complete systems or factories. The range of applications covers the press shop, body shop, assembly shop and paint shop, as well as quality assurance and test bench technology. Since all control functions are mapped in software, even complex requirements can be implemented with little engineering effort. In addition to turnkey system solutions, Beckhoff supplies standard components, which allow machine manufacturers to configure controllers that are individually tailored to their applications. Machine manufacturers can contribute their own process expertise, be it for a new machine series or for retrofits. In addition, open hardware and software interfaces offer machine manufacturers high degrees of freedom in machine construction. They facilitate integration of a large number of different devices, including devices from third-party manufacturers. The Beckhoff control platform, which is based on industry and IT standards, supports the implementation of Industrie 4.0 concepts for machine-to-machine communication and for data processing and analysis in the cloud.

PC-based Control von Beckhoff optimiert Pressen-Linien

Sheet metal working

High performance built-in: PC-based control from Beckhoff for all control and drive applications in sheet metal working

Handling and assembly technology

PC-based control from Beckhoff optimizes the entire process chain: from preparation to production and assembly to testing and handling.

Test facilities

Precise, fast and reliable: system-integrated high-end measurement technology for test facilities

Machine tools

Scalable and powerful: The universal software CNC solution from Beckhoff increases the productivity of machine tools.

Beckhoff technology highlights for the automotive industry

On the basis of the scalable and open Beckhoff PC platform, machine manufacturers can develop cost-attractive control solutions because only precisely the performance required for the respective application has to be paid for.
On the basis of the scalable and open Beckhoff PC platform, machine manufacturers can develop cost-attractive control solutions because only precisely the performance required for the respective application has to be paid for.

Scalable and modular: customized automation from Beckhoff

An average car consists of around 10,000 individual parts. Accordingly, numerous production steps and machines are used in the sector, involving diverse and complex control tasks. At the same time, even shorter product life cycles necessitate increased production flexibility. This is precisely where Beckhoff's PC-based control technology offers a decisive competitive advantage: scalable and flexible solutions with high performance and high precision. With the Beckhoff automation kit, individual control solutions can be configured for a wide range of applications and requirements. High-performance PCs with industrial motherboards, multi-touch Panels, very fast I/O components, EtherCAT as an open and ultra-fast, real-time capable fieldbus, versatile, dynamic servo drive technology and TwinCAT as the engineering and control software form the basis for sequential control, visualization, motion control, robotics, safety and measurement technology and Condition Monitoring. All components are individually scalable in terms of performance and design so that the control platform can be tailored precisely to the respective application. The use of industry and IT standards and components for cloud communication and big data make the PC-based control platform ideal for end-to-end networking and the implementation of Industrie 4.0 concepts.

EtherCAT combines the fieldbus communication for IOs, the secure communication for TwinSAFE and of course the drive communication in one system.
EtherCAT combines the fieldbus communication for IOs, the secure communication for TwinSAFE and of course the drive communication in one system.
EtherCAT G is an advanced version of the EtherCAT success principle with technologically available speeds of 1 GBit/s and 10 GBit/s. The EtherCAT protocol itself remains unchanged.
EtherCAT G is an advanced version of the EtherCAT success principle with technologically available speeds of 1 GBit/s and 10 GBit/s. The EtherCAT protocol itself remains unchanged.

Fast, open and ideally suited as a fieldbus for the automotive industry: EtherCAT – the high-speed fieldbus

The EtherCAT technology was launched by Beckhoff in 2003 and made available as an open automation technology standard. With outstanding performance, flexible choice of topology, comprehensive diagnostics and simple configuration, EtherCAT is ideally suited for use in production plants. Beckhoff supplies the largest number of EtherCAT-compatible automation modules for both I/Os and drive technology.

The world's largest car manufacturers are members of the EtherCAT Technology Group (ETG) and use cycle times well below 1 ms in many of their applications. Short cycle times enable highly precise and dynamic processes and thus increase the efficiency of production machines. A large number of EtherCAT-compatible sensors and actuators are available on the market, which guarantees a high level of investment security. Other fieldbus systems such as CANopen, IO-Link and PROFINET can also be integrated as communication layers in the control solution via EtherCAT. Future Time-Sensitive Networking (TSN) implementations will be realized on the basis of the EtherCAT automation protocol (EAP). Beckhoff developed the EtherCAT P technology in order to reduce the installation effort. The single-cable solution combines communication and power in one cable, which reduces the cabling effort and minimizes sources of error.

For high-performance machines and highly complex applications, Beckhoff has introduced EtherCAT G to the market. As an advanced version of the successful EtherCAT principle, it offers speeds ranging from 1 GBit/s to 10 GBit/s, which makes it possible to increase the current EtherCAT transmission rate of 100 Mbit/s by a factor of 100. Both performance stages represent system-compliant enhancements of the EtherCAT technology – the well-known "on-the-fly" function principle remains unchanged. And thanks to the branch concept of EtherCAT G, 100 Mbit/s EtherCAT segments can be integrated into the network to reduce throughput times in large networks by processing segments in parallel.

The general advantages of EtherCAT are:

  • high speed
  • simple diagnostics
  • control of up to 65,000 devices
  • EtherCAT allows the transmission of up to 64 kbit per slave
  • perfect synchronization

Beckhoff product highlights for the automotive industry

The eXtended Planar Motor System features free-floating planar movers to float smoothly over freely arrangeable planar tiles at speeds of up to 4 meters per second along six axes without bumping into each other. The Movers are kept at a distance by means of electromagnetic forces. Traveling magnetic fields, which are generated within the planar tiles, position the movers accurately and dynamically.
The eXtended Planar Motor System features free-floating planar movers to float smoothly over freely arrangeable planar tiles at speeds of up to 4 meters per second along six axes without bumping into each other. The Movers are kept at a distance by means of electromagnetic forces. Traveling magnetic fields, which are generated within the planar tiles, position the movers accurately and dynamically.
Planar tiles in 24 x 24 cm format can be used to implement any geometries as required by the respective application. By simply joining the modules together, the size and shape of the surface can be freely scaled and configured: oblong, square, rectangular, L-shaped or ring-shaped. The number of movers can also be freely selected, so there are hardly any limitations in the application.
Planar tiles in 24 x 24 cm format can be used to implement any geometries as required by the respective application. By simply joining the modules together, the size and shape of the surface can be freely scaled and configured: oblong, square, rectangular, L-shaped or ring-shaped. The number of movers can also be freely selected, so there are hardly any limitations in the application.

The mobility of the future requires advanced manufacturing concepts today

Innovative production concepts need to be able to manufacture individualized products in a quantity-oriented and space-optimized manner. These challenges can be solved efficiently with the intelligent XPlanar handling system from Beckhoff.

Like the XTS linear transport system developed by Beckhoff, the planar motor system is based on the principle of passive movers that can be moved individually and with outstanding precision. In the case of XPlanar, the movers do not move on a guide rail, but rather over the planar tiles, which can be arranged at will as required. Traveling magnetic fields allow the planar movers to float freely over the surface. The products on the XPlanar movers independently move through the individual process steps and through the machine along "individual" paths. Workpieces can be discharged or inspected without interrupting the overall process. Movers of different sizes enable parallel production of different formats on one system.

The system itself can be designed as required thanks to the flexible arrangement of the XPlanar tiles. Tiles and movers can be added after the initial installation, so that the system can grow with the requirements of the application. If high quantities are required, processing stations can be duplicated as needed. Simultaneous execution of individual processing steps allows the production of a larger number of products per machine cycle, which can also be extended. This means that more processing time is available within a station, which can be used for quality-optimized product processing, thereby reducing scrap.

The flexibility and efficiency of the planar motor system is complemented by reduced maintenance requirements. The floating effect avoids any mechanical wear on tiles and movers and makes the system ideal for cleanroom applications, although it goes without saying that it can also be used in conventional production environments.

TwinCAT, the Beckhoff automation software, controls the movements of the movers and avoids collisions between them. Thanks to full integration of XPlanar in the modular Beckhoff system, all the familiar TwinCAT functionalities are available to the user. For example, XPlanar can conveniently be visualized with the TwinCAT HMI or interact with an inspection camera via TwinCAT Vision.

Naturally, communication between the tiles takes place via EtherCAT G, the enhanced high-performance version of the EtherCAT real-time fieldbus system invented by Beckhoff. All in all, a wide range of automotive production processes can be rethought with XPlanar and PC-based automation technology from Beckhoff. This includes, for example, the production of batteries or the assembly of individual display instruments.

The TwinCAT tool chain is optimized for machine construction and enables all control applications, HMI, IoT communication and analysis tasks to be implemented.
The TwinCAT tool chain is optimized for machine construction and enables all control applications, HMI, IoT communication and analysis tasks to be implemented.

TwinCAT: the universal automation platform for greater efficiency in engineering

The TwinCAT 3 automation software integrates all engineering and runtime processes and features a consistent development environment for implementing all control tasks in the automotive industry. Thanks to TwinCAT’s support for programming in the IEC61131-3 dialects and the integration of C/C++ algorithms and MATLAB®/Simulink®, machine builders can pick the programming method that works best for their application. The TwinCAT interfaces to Machine Learning algorithms allow the use of AI methods in the traditional control environment. The use of Microsoft Visual Studio® as the standard programming workbench supports different version management systems and simplifies team-based programming. For high-volume production applications, TwinCAT features open interfaces for integrating commercial IT systems into the machine program generation process. Ready-made software modules, e.g., for dancer roll control, cam plate function, energy monitoring or QR code recognition, simplify engineering and shorten development and commissioning times.

  • Extensive TwinCAT libraries for Motion Control and supplements for various robot kinematics with tested and optimized algorithms save on development time.
  • Commissioning and service processes are accelerated and improved using TwinCAT Scope, a software oscilloscope fully integrated in the TwinCAT system architecture, thus contributing to the improvement of machine quality.
  • With TwinCAT Vision, images can be processed directly in the unified control platform. Since configuration and programming tasks are performed in a familiar environment, they simplify the engineering process considerably. They also allow for the synchronization of all image-derived control functions in real time. Latencies are eliminated, and all image algorithms are executed in real time.
  • The software-based TwinSAFE safety technology simplifies the wiring of complex installations because variants can be mapped in software. That way, commission production cells can be developed module by module, to name just one example.
  • The integrated, browser-based visualization solution TwinCAT HMI enables the convenient development and maintenance of visualization objects and user interfaces. The visualization can be displayed either directly on a panel at the machine or platform-independently on an end device that supports HTML 5.
  • By supporting standardized communication protocols for cloud applications, TwinCAT IoT makes it possible to aggregate data in the cloud or locally at the production site.
  • With the help of TwinCAT Analytics, the collected data can then be analyzed.
  • TwinCAT Cloud Engineering enables the familiar TwinCAT engineering and runtime products to be used directly in the cloud and enables the development of software in large teams independent of location.

The C60xx series of scalable ultra-compact Industrial PCs combines maximum computing power in what is currently the most compact format with a wide range of options for installation in the control cabinet. It is ideally suited for control, visualization and communication, for example into the cloud.
The C60xx series of scalable ultra-compact Industrial PCs combines maximum computing power in what is currently the most compact format with a wide range of options for installation in the control cabinet. It is ideally suited for control, visualization and communication, for example into the cloud.

C60xx: the ultra-compact Industrial PC family, with precisely scalable performance for all control applications

Launched with the C6015, the series of ultra-compact Industrial PCs has positioned itself extremely successfully on the market due to its flexible application possibilities. As a sturdy control cabinet Industrial PC with an Intel® Atom™ CPU with up to four cores and a clock speed of 1.91 GHz, the C6015 is suitable for automation, visualization and communication tasks. The small dimensions of 82 x 82 x 40 mm and the flexible mounting options make the fanless multi-core PC the ideal controller for applications with high performance requirements and minimal mounting space in almost all areas of the automotive industry.

  • The C6017 multi-core computer, which measures only 82 x 82 x 66 mm, complements the device family with a variant with further optional interfaces. It is ideally suited as a cloud gateway. In this way, data can be collected and transferred from different systems.
  • Thanks to its high computing power and fanless design, the C6025 is particularly suited for demanding control applications that also take into account the "green IT" aspect. The basis for this is the Intel® Core™ i U processor, which consumes significantly less power.
  • The C6030 offers advantages such as low space requirements, universal usability and flexible mounting, even for complex applications with the highest performance requirements.
  • The C6032 is equipped with an additional board level for modular interface and function expansions. By using compact PCIe modules, it can be perfectly adapted to the respective automotive application and requirement profile.

The Beckhoff I/O system supports around 1000 Bus Terminals and is thus probably the most comprehensive system on the market. The components enable users to operate mixed signal configurations without restriction at each station. This means that a single non-central input/output node can map all of the necessary signals.
The Beckhoff I/O system supports around 1000 Bus Terminals and is thus probably the most comprehensive system on the market. The components enable users to operate mixed signal configurations without restriction at each station. This means that a single non-central input/output node can map all of the necessary signals.

The universal basic function block for automation: the Beckhoff I/O portfolio

In 1995, Beckhoff launched the Bus Terminal, which has since become one of the most important technology standards in automation technology. That was followed by the development of the fast EtherCAT communication system in 2003. Launched by Beckhoff as an open system, it became a global standard in automation within a few years. With around 100 signal types, users have an extensive EtherCAT I/O terminal portfolio offering high performance and flexibility at their disposal that is ideally suited for the automation of a wide range of functionalities. Up to 65,535 EtherCAT Terminals can be connected to an EtherCAT strand, offering virtually unlimited scope for network expansion. The terminals consist of robust housings and solid electronics for industrial environments.