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Open automation technology with Euromap interfaces for production cells

As the efficiency of plastics machines increases, the integration of production cells and the independent communication between individual machines and plant components are becoming increasingly important. In order to ensure a secure and reliable data exchange between heterogeneous production installations, the components must communicate via an interoperability standard based on OPC UA, in accordance with the Euromap Companion Specifications. In TwinCAT, Beckhoff integrates a powerful OPC UA engineering tool for the implementation of Euromap-compatible interfaces of all types.

Automation devices and sensors from different manufacturers are linked in production cells. The particular strength of Beckhoff's open automation technology is shown in this environment. Different fieldbus systems can be integrated into a hardware and software family with the help of the large interface portfolio and the elegant integration into TwinCAT. The efficient design of production cells follows a basic concept with which a large variance can be realized. This requires flexible, easily adaptable technology for safety devices. Beckhoff's modular safety hardware and software offers distributed I/O components close to the safety devices as well as application-specific software adaptation within the framework of the safety regulations.

PC-based control is ideal for use in production cells

The Beckhoff portfolio includes a wide range of solutions to meet the typical requirements of production cells.
The Beckhoff portfolio includes a wide range of solutions to meet the typical requirements of production cells.

Injection molding machines and production cells with universal engineering platform

In the manufacture of injection-molded parts, plastics processors are increasingly relying on production cells to produce complex parts with high output in perfect quality and with minimal personnel costs. In cleanroom applications, production cells are often mandatory for meeting hygiene standards. Thanks to their modular design, the engineering effort and the variety of parts of production cells are reduced. The extensive Beckhoff portfolio includes a wide range of software and hardware solutions to meet the typical requirements of production cells:

  • Special devices can be omitted due to the consistent implementation of all functionalities as software modules. This reduces hardware costs, engineering effort and lifecycle costs.
  • Display devices with different screen sizes and orientations offer ergonomic operation in an appealing design.
  • EtherCAT as a fast fieldbus forms the backbone for production cells with Beckhoff technology. Subsystems can easily be integrated by interfaces to all common fieldbuses.
  • The EtherCAT Box modules in IP67 or the AMP8000 distributed servo drive system reduce the mounting space required in control cabinets and support the modular design of production cells.
  • The Beckhoff safety architecture supports the design of a modular safety concept from a single source with additional customization.
  • The design of a wide range of heterogeneous production cells is enabled through support for the vendor-neutral Euromap standards based on OPC UA, EtherCAT as a fast fieldbus and TwinCAT as a universal engineering platform.

PC-based control as a universal engineering platform for extruders with integrated downstream automation
PC-based control as a universal engineering platform for extruders with integrated downstream automation

PC-based control for extruders with integrated downstream automation

The Beckhoff control portfolio provides the basis for innovative automation concepts in extrusion. In addition to the control technology for extruders, there are numerous fields of application for the downstream devices for tube and profile extruders as well as for film extrusion. As a specialist for various fieldbus variants based on EtherCAT, Beckhoff provides extensive options for the integration of subsystems.

  • EtherCAT as a communication base allows the secure and high-performance networking of a complete extrusion line with the help of different fieldbuses or via the serial interfaces that are still used.
  • EtherCAT-based fieldbus interfaces allow the integration of measuring systems or trimming devices with third-party controllers.
  • Euromap-compatible Ethernet interfaces support sustainable solutions for the integration of line components.
  • PC-based control supports cloud communication, including for the retrofitting of existing machines, enabling the aggregation of data in global production networks.
  • TwinCAT provides special function blocks for automatic size adjustment for hose extrusion lines, for smoothing units in flat film extrusion and for roller winders for blown film plants.
  • Through the perfect integration of image analysis algorithms into TwinCAT, the machine programmer can improve the monitoring of plant functions and the quality of the end products.

The Beckhoff portfolio offers versatile automation solutions for production cells for complex plastic articles.
The Beckhoff portfolio offers versatile automation solutions for production cells for complex plastic articles.

Production cells for complex plastic articles

In the manufacture of blow-molded articles, plastics processors are increasingly relying on production cells to produce complex articles with high output in perfect quality and with minimal personnel costs. The modular design of the production cell reduces the engineering effort and limits the variety of parts. The extensive Beckhoff component portfolio includes a wide range of solutions to meet the typical requirements of production cells:

  • Display devices with different screen sizes and orientations offer ergonomic operation in an appealing design.
  • EtherCAT as a fast fieldbus forms the backbone for production cells with Beckhoff technology. Subsystems, e.g., for labeling or marking, can easily be integrated by interfaces to all common fieldbuses.
  • The EtherCAT Box modules in IP67 or the AMP8000 distributed servo drive system reduces the mounting space required in control cabinets and support the modular design of production cells.
  • Special IP67 modules with integrated sensors for pressure measurement are available for leak testing.
  • In addition to the classic servomotors with gear units, the highly flexible linear XTS and XPlanar linear drive systems are available for parts transport, stacking devices or film insertion (IML). They are suitable for the realization of innovative solutions, for example for product transport to the filling machine for linked plants.

Beckhoff technology highlights for production cells

Our scalable product portfolio facilitates the development of cost- and performance-optimized automation solutions for plastics machines.
Our scalable product portfolio facilitates the development of cost- and performance-optimized automation solutions for plastics machines.

The PC-based control principle

With PC-based control technology, we offer comprehensive system solutions in various performance classes for the automation of all types of plastics machines. The basic principle is based on a powerful industrial PC, a high-performance fieldbus connection with the connected peripheral devices for sensors and actuators, and the software for engineering and real-time control. The control platform is supplemented by an extensive portfolio of drive components. TwinCAT automation software bundles all necessary functionalities such as PLC, motion control, robotics, measurement technology, image processing, and HMI. Our technology is based on IT standards and has the necessary openness to implement intelligent production concepts according to Industrie 4.0.

Due to the high performance of modern processors, which we install in all of our PC series, computationally intensive applications can easily be integrated into the control platform. Plastics machine manufacturers benefit from the continuous increase in the performance of PC processors: Shorter sampling times are already increasing the quality of the end product today and will be the requirement for the realization of self-learning machines in the future. The possibility, for example, to completely simulate an injection molding machine in the virtual design process saves time during development and commissioning.

Due to its excellent real-time characteristics and high bandwidth, EtherCAT is ideally suited for controlling the complex processes encountered in plastics machines and serves as a backbone for linking production equipment.
Due to its excellent real-time characteristics and high bandwidth, EtherCAT is ideally suited for controlling the complex processes encountered in plastics machines and serves as a backbone for linking production equipment.

EtherCAT: World standard for plastics machines

The EtherCAT technology was launched on the market by us in 2003 and made available as an open standard for automation technology. With outstanding performance, flexible choice of topology, comprehensive diagnostics and simple configuration, EtherCAT is ideally suited for use in plastics machines. We offer the largest number of EtherCAT-compatible automation modules for I/Os and for drive technology.

EtherCAT is one of the most widely used standards in plastics technology. A large number of EtherCAT-compatible sensors and actuators are available on the market, which guarantees a high level of investment security. Particularly interesting for electrically driven injection molding machines is the problem-free connection of drives from third-party suppliers. Other fieldbus systems can also be integrated as communication layers via EtherCAT.

The fast and high-precision Beckhoff control solution eXtreme Fast Control (XFC) is based on EtherCAT and special I/O modules optimized for XFC that record signals or trigger actions with high accuracy. With I/O response times under 100 μs, XFC enables very fast and extremely deterministic reactions and thus contributes to process optimization.

All safety functions can be integrated into any conceivable machine architecture with TwinSAFE: from the stand-alone solution to the distributed and the software controller, which meets even the most complex requirements. End customers thus get exactly the complete safety package that they need. Unnecessary costs for incorrectly dimensioned safety solutions are avoided.
All safety functions can be integrated into any conceivable machine architecture with TwinSAFE: from the stand-alone solution to the distributed and the software controller, which meets even the most complex requirements. End customers thus get exactly the complete safety package that they need. Unnecessary costs for incorrectly dimensioned safety solutions are avoided.

TwinSAFE: The open and scalable safety technology

With TwinSAFE, we have implemented a consistent safety concept that integrates safe functionalities into the non-safety-related control architecture. Separate safety controllers are thus superfluous. The typical safety functions can be programmed and configured on the EL6910 TwinSAFE Logic or the compact EK1960 safety controller, based on standard safety function blocks according to the safety requirements. The Beckhoff safety solution accelerates the engineering process, as the safety-related requirements of different machine configurations can be realized by software. All our safety controllers are suitable for applications up to SIL 3 according to IEC 61508 or PLe of ISO 13849-1 and meet the EN 201 standard for injection molding machines.

Safety technology seamlessly integrates into the terminal segment via the TwinSAFE I/O modules, whereby safe signals can be mixed with standard signals as required. This benefits, for example, blow molding machines or production cells with control cabinets in different installation locations. Due to its scalability, the Beckhoff safety solution is suitable for expansive, complex systems with distributed I/Os as well as for small injection molding and blow molding machines. One safety logic is sufficient here to realize the complete safety technology. The compact EK1960 safety controller is particularly suitable for injection molding machines with hydraulic and/or electric drives. It allows the direct control of digital switching valves with a load of 2 A, such as those used in core pullers. With the help of the TwinSAFE SC technology, signals with a low safety level can be used redundantly for safety tasks.

TwinCAT Vision is directly integrated into the engineering environment of TwinCAT. All control functions derived from image processing, such as the exact determination of the position of the workpiece as well as the triggering of the camera and the light source, are synchronized in real time with TwinCAT Vision.
TwinCAT Vision is directly integrated into the engineering environment of TwinCAT. All control functions derived from image processing, such as the exact determination of the position of the workpiece as well as the triggering of the camera and the light source, are synchronized in real time with TwinCAT Vision.

Image processing integrated into the controller ensures the quality of the parts in plastics processing

Optical quality monitoring has long been known in plastics technology. However, due to integration costs and the lack of complete solutions, it has not yet established itself as a standard. The approach of PC-based control technology offers the ideal solution here: with TwinCAT Vision, Beckhoff integrates the image processing functionalities completely into the familiar engineering environment of the machine programmer, which makes programming and testing much simpler. All control functions derived from image processing, such as the exact determination of the position of the workpiece as well as the triggering of the camera and the light source, are synchronized in real time. This is a key advantage of the integrated image processing solution over separate systems.

The vision solution from Beckhoff is ideally suited in the plastics industry for process monitoring, e.g., for the ejector, for determining the part geometry and for position orientation.

Advantage through TwinCAT Vision

  • Improvement in quality: Precise measurement and exact optical inspection ensure compliance with the process parameters.
  • Increase in efficiency: The synchronous inline measurement of parts without a separate measuring station improves efficiency.
  • Quality assurance: Applications such as Track & Trace enable the traceability of product quality for each individual part, such as is required for safety-critical applications in the medical technology sector or for special automotive parts.
  • Temperature measurement: The surface temperature of plastic parts can be determined with the help of thermal imaging cameras.
  • Machine Learning: Inferences between machine settings and part geometries are a prerequisite for the development of learning algorithms as a milestone towards intelligent, self-learning machines.

Beckhoff product highlights for production cells

The Beckhoff multi-touch Control Panel series offers maximum flexibility with regard to designs, display sizes and formats. From an extensive portfolio of Control Panels, the user can select the appropriate user interface for the application requirements. In addition to the clear, ergonomic machine operation, the high-quality panel design also plays a decisive role in the appearance of the machine.
The Beckhoff multi-touch Control Panel series offers maximum flexibility with regard to designs, display sizes and formats. From an extensive portfolio of Control Panels, the user can select the appropriate user interface for the application requirements. In addition to the clear, ergonomic machine operation, the high-quality panel design also plays a decisive role in the appearance of the machine.

Maximum flexibility for proven and new operating concepts with multi-touch

The Beckhoff Panel generation with industry-standard multi-touch display offers the right solution for any application. The wide model variety ranges from different display sizes and formats to custom models. For single-touch users, the new panel generation also offers excellent value for the price and a smart alternative to other systems.

Highlights:

  • display sizes from 7-inch to 24-inch (16:9, 5:4, 4:3)
  • landscape and portrait mode
  • multi-touch (PCT): e.g., for 5-finger or 2-hand touch operation
  • high touch-point density for safe operation
  • high-quality aluminum housing, milled from a solid block
  • metal perimeter protection for the display front
  • built-in or mounting arm models
  • Control Panel with CP-Link 4 or DVI-/USB-Extended technology
  • Panel PCs with CPUs from Intel®™ Atom to Core™ i7
  • optional electromechanical push-button extension

With the CX series of Embedded PCs, Beckhoff combines PC technology with the modular I/O level on the DIN rail in the control cabinet. Due to the fine scalability of the different device classes, the user can select exactly the right performance category for his application. Even smaller than the compact design of the Embedded PC devices is the series of ultra-compact Industrial PCs, which is therefore suitable as an alternative, especially when it comes to minimizing mounting space.
With the CX series of Embedded PCs, Beckhoff combines PC technology with the modular I/O level on the DIN rail in the control cabinet. Due to the fine scalability of the different device classes, the user can select exactly the right performance category for his application. Even smaller than the compact design of the Embedded PC devices is the series of ultra-compact Industrial PCs, which is therefore suitable as an alternative, especially when it comes to minimizing mounting space.

Modular Industrial PCs for the DIN rail

With the CX series of Embedded PCs, Beckhoff combines PC technology with the modular I/O level on the DIN rail in the control cabinet. By adding or eliminating modules and interfaces, only the components that the user needs for the respective application are installed. In this way, Embedded PCs open up a wide range of applications – for example in the field of plastics machines and production cells.

Due to its sturdiness, the CX is suitable for use as a powerful and reliable controller under harsh industrial conditions, such as vibration or heat. The fine scalability in different device classes allows users to select exactly the right performance category for their applications. The devices from the lower performance class are suitable, for example, for controlling temperature control devices, for dosing applications and for conveyor belts. Powerful control PCs are available for injection molding and blow molding machines in the CX5100 and CX5200. The devices from the CX20x0 and CX20x2 series are high-end controllers that allow for complex user interfaces, the integration of image processing, the realization of machine learning or the aggregation of large quantities of data.

Even smaller than the compact Embedded PC devices is the series of ultra-compact Industrial PCs, which is therefore suitable as an alternative, especially when it comes to minimizing mounting space. While the C6015 is suitable for control tasks in the lower performance category, the C6030 meets the requirements for a standard controller. Another advantage is the flexible mounting: while the CX can only be installed horizontally, the devices from the C60xx series can be installed in any position. Another advantage of the Embedded PCs – as for Beckhoff's entire Industrial PC portfolio – is the long-term availability of spare parts, which offers the customer a high level of investment security.

Suitable EtherCAT Terminals are available for all common digital and analog signal types encountered in the world of automation. Fieldbus devices, e.g. for PROFIBUS, PROFINET, CANopen, DeviceNet, Interbus, IO-Link or Lightbus, are integrated via local fieldbus master/slave terminals. Removal of the fieldbus master saves PCI slots in the PC. Any Ethernet devices can be integrated locally via switch port terminals.
Suitable EtherCAT Terminals are available for all common digital and analog signal types encountered in the world of automation. Fieldbus devices, e.g. for PROFIBUS, PROFINET, CANopen, DeviceNet, Interbus, IO-Link or Lightbus, are integrated via local fieldbus master/slave terminals. Removal of the fieldbus master saves PCI slots in the PC. Any Ethernet devices can be integrated locally via switch port terminals.
With a wide range of TwinSAFE logic-capable components, Beckhoff offers complete freedom in the design of the safety architecture.
With a wide range of TwinSAFE logic-capable components, Beckhoff offers complete freedom in the design of the safety architecture.

EtherCAT I/O modules integrate temperature control, energy measurement and safety technology into the control platform

In 1995, Beckhoff launched the Bus Terminal, which has since become one of the most important technology standards in automation technology. This was followed in 2003 by the development of the EtherCAT fast communication system. Launched by Beckhoff as an open system, it became a global standard in automation within a few years. An extensive EtherCAT I/O Terminal portfolio is available to users that is extremely well suited for automating every functionality in plastics machines and their peripherals in terms of both its performance and variance.

  • EL3318 for temperature measurement
    The EL3318 EtherCAT Terminal is ideal for temperature measurement via thermocouples. The 8-channel input terminal with integrated cold junction compensation is very compact in its design and measures temperatures with high accuracy and high signal-to-noise ratio.
  • EL3403 and EL3446 for power measurement
    The EL3403 three-phase power measurement terminal can be used to measure and optimize the power consumption of a plastics machine. In conjunction with the TwinCAT Plastic Processing Framework, the EL3403 is used for the cost-effective Condition Monitoring of the heating tapes through sequentially alternating testing in operation. In traditional control structures, the power measurement terminal can also be used for current measurement. The EL3446 is available for simple monitoring of the heating tape function. In combination with the voltage measurement in just one power measurement terminal, the power consumption of individual machine components can be recorded cost-effectively by means of current measurement. The Beckhoff SCT current transformers (SCT2xxx, SCT1xxxx) enable assembly of the appropriate combination of sensor and power measuring terminal without requiring detailed knowledge.
  • EL3255 for position detection
    The EL3255 EtherCAT Terminal allows potentiometric position detection. Due to its integrated power supply, the terminal delivers precise results (voltage values) even in environments with high interference fields. The EL3255 is particularly suitable for injection molding and blow molding machines with hydraulic drive technology.
  • EL6224 IO-Link terminal
    IO-Link is an inexpensive fieldbus for the reading of sensors with low real-time requirements. A preferred application, for example in extrusion, is the reading of melt pressure and melt temperature via the EL6224.
  • Thermocouple Fieldbus Modules FM33xx
    The fieldbus modules with EtherCAT fieldbus connection allow the safe and accurate reading of thermocouples on injection molds, for example in injection mold making. The fieldbus modules have back-voltage protection circuitry to protect against external voltages applied to the thermocouple inputs. The cabling costs are reduced by eliminating compensation cables.
  • TwinSAFE terminals for integrating safety technology into the controller
    Due to its scalability, the Beckhoff safety solution is suitable for expansive, complex systems with distributed I/Os as well as for small injection molding and blow molding machines. One safety logic is sufficient here to realize the complete safety technology. The compact EK1960 safety controller is particularly suitable for injection molding machines with hydraulic and/or electric drives. It allows the direct control of digital switching valves with a load of 2 A, such as those used in core pullers.

The robust design of the EtherCAT Box modules enables their use directly at the machine. Control cabinets and terminal boxes are now no longer required.
The robust design of the EtherCAT Box modules enables their use directly at the machine. Control cabinets and terminal boxes are now no longer required.

Universal EtherCAT for the IP67 world

With the EtherCAT Box, EtherCAT technology is used without a control cabinet. The modules from the IP67 series have an integrated direct EtherCAT interface, so that the high performance is retained right down to each module. In the IP67 world, this enables fast process data communication with XFC, high-precision measurement technology and integrated drive technology functions directly in the field. The robust design of the EtherCAT Box modules enables them to be used directly at the machine. Control cabinets and terminal boxes are now no longer required. In addition to the sturdy M12 screw connectors, D-Sub connectors, which are perfectly suited for handling applications, are also available for cost-sensitive applications.

  • With the EP3744 EtherCAT Box, pneumatic pressure monitoring for the gripper elements can be implemented in handling applications; at the same time, six digital inputs can be read in.
  • In the EP1816, the acquisition of 16 digital inputs is combined with the measurement of acceleration forces in three axes.
  • The EP3752 enables the measurement of acceleration forces without additional inputs. The measured values of the accelerometers can be used for the acquisition of the mass forces, e.g., on machine bodies or for innovative control concepts with jerk compensation on handling devices.
  • The EP3314 EtherCAT Box is suitable for the acquisition of process temperatures directly at the point where they arise. It increases measuring accuracy and saves having to use compensating cables for the thermocouples.
  • The FM3312 or FM3332 Fieldbus Modules in a sturdy metal housing are particularly suitable for temperature measurement on injection molds or nozzles in extrusion lines. Up to 32 temperature channels can be contained in one industrial connector. Operational reliability is additionally ensured by reverse polarity protection against phase voltage.
  • With the EP3356, the high-precision evaluation of load cells is possible, which is required in extruder applications for dosing and melt throughput measurement.

Electrical servo technology replaces hydraulic systems and increases the energy efficiency of plastic machines.
Electrical servo technology replaces hydraulic systems and increases the energy efficiency of plastic machines.

Drive systems for highly dynamic positioning tasks

In combination with the motion control solutions in the TwinCAT automation software, Beckhoff drive technology represents a complete drive system for all applications in plastics technology. With EtherCAT as a fast communication system, it is suitable for single and multi-axis positioning tasks with highly dynamic requirements. Due to its scalability, the Beckhoff drive technology enables machine manufacturers to design their drive solution to suit the required performance.

The AX5000 and AX8000 servo drive series offer maximum performance and dynamics with powerful EtherCAT system communication. The integrated, fast control technology of the AX series supports the execution of high-precision positioning tasks, such as those required in the field of film production: The smoothing rollers, which smooth the extruded film before winding, must be adjustable in the submillimeter range. The AX5000 offers the optimal solution for ultra-fast removal processes. The flexible concept of the AX5000 with 1- and 2-channel units as well as the variable motor power ensure a cost-optimized design. The drives from the AX8000 series are predestined for compact, modular drive units and for Cartesian handling devices.

In the lower performance range, the EtherCAT servo terminals, which offer a complete servo drive in the standard terminal housing, represent a drive solution that is both compact and inexpensive for low part weights or for additional units with low power consumption.

Beckhoff drive technology is characterized by its enormous in-house production depth: the servo drives and motors come virtually from a single source. The drives are produced at the production site in Verl, while the motors are developed and produced at a company belonging to the Beckhoff group. Thus, all drive technology components follow a consistent engineering concept. The extensive range of linear and rotary motors is optimally tailored to the Beckhoff servo drives. One result of this successful development collaboration is, for example, the One Cable Technology of the AM8000 motor series, which combines power and feedback systems in one standard cable. This reduces the mounting space on the machine and lowers the commissioning costs. Another technical innovation as a result of this close cooperation is the AMP8000 distributed servo drive system. It integrates the servo drive into the servomotor in a compact design.

The Beckhoff drive components are seamlessly integrated into the TwinCAT engineering tool. The motion control software packages TwinCAT NC-PTP, NC I and TwinCAT Rotobotics are perfectly matched to the servo drives and motors. Thanks to the integrated safety technology the servo drives meet the stringent safety requirements for plastics machines and simplify the configuration of production cells. For the new development of machines, Beckhoff has integrated tools into TwinCAT for the design of motors and gear units. For complex applications or the design of new systems, Beckhoff also offers support in the design of motors and gear units. The customer thus benefits from the many years of expertise of the Beckhoff engineers in various drive applications.

The servo terminals for the Beckhoff EtherCAT Terminal system integrate a complete servo drive in the standard terminal housing.
The servo terminals for the Beckhoff EtherCAT Terminal system integrate a complete servo drive in the standard terminal housing.

Compact dive technology: connection of motors directly in the I/O system

In combination with the wide range of motors and gear units, the Beckhoff I/O systems make inexpensive drive solutions possible: the modularly expandable motion terminals support servo, stepper and DC motors of different performance classes. EtherCAT Box modules with IP67 protection for stepper and DC motors are available for use without control cabinets. All drive solutions are integrated in the Beckhoff TwinCAT automation software, making parameterization convenient. Solutions for lesser motion requirements. No high-quality servo axes are required for auxiliary drives, such as simple adjustable axes, movable stops, small conveying movements or simple positioning drives; in fact, stepper or DC motors are sufficient.

The AMP8000 distributed Servo Drive system integrates the servo drive directly into the servomotor, thereby opening up new avenues for modular machine concepts. By shifting the power electronics directly to the machine, the space requirement in the control cabinet is reduced to a single coupling module that supplies several servo drives with just one cable via a distribution module.
The AMP8000 distributed Servo Drive system integrates the servo drive directly into the servomotor, thereby opening up new avenues for modular machine concepts. By shifting the power electronics directly to the machine, the space requirement in the control cabinet is reduced to a single coupling module that supplies several servo drives with just one cable via a distribution module.

Modular design concept for maximum flexibility and space savings

The AMP8000 distributed Servo Drive system opens up new options for modular machine concepts. The AMP8000 integrates the servo drive directly into the servomotor in a very compact design. By relocating the power electronics into the machine, the space requirement in the control cabinet is reduced to a single coupling module, which supplies several distributed servo drives with only one cable via a distribution module. A further expansion stage completely eliminates the control cabinet space required for the drive technology. Whereas the connection of the drives to the control cabinet is reduced to only one cable with the coupling modules, it is completely eliminated when using the AMP8620 power supply module.

The AMP8000 is suitable for a wide range of applications in plastics processing. Servomotor-driven turning tools in multi-component injection molding technology can be integrated without additional control cabinet space. This also facilitates the retrofitting of existing plants. Handling devices for injection molding machines or blow molding machines can be attached with the AMP8000 without an additional control cabinet. This also applies to complete production cells with a typically limited footprint. A particularly interesting application for the machine design is also the blowing stations for stretch blow molding machines.

The XTS provides for flexibility in product handling in production cells by replacing complex and expensive mechanical systems with software. In TwinCAT, software function blocks are available for typical XTS applications and only require parameterization.
The XTS provides for flexibility in product handling in production cells by replacing complex and expensive mechanical systems with software. In TwinCAT, software function blocks are available for typical XTS applications and only require parameterization.

The eXtended Transport System replaces classic mechanical systems by innovative mechatronics

XTS is a mechatronic system that includes all the functions necessary for operation: a modular, fully integrated linear motor with power electronics and displacement measurement in one device, the movers and a mechanical guide rail. A wide variety of applications can be realized with these precisely matched components. The desired geometries, lengths and radii are formed by the number and choice of the components. XTS enables individual product transport with a continuous flow of material. With flexible path guidance, all advantages of a direct drive are readily available, such as high dynamics and positioning accuracy, low vibration inclination, freedom from wear and low energy consumption. Since the return journey and the curves are used for active material transport, there are no empty journeys and the process is accelerated. Simple engineering is ensured by the TwinCAT automation software, which already integrates standard functionalities such as automatic accumulation, collision and jerk avoidance.

The XPlanar is suitable for various transport tasks in a wide range of applications.
The XPlanar is suitable for various transport tasks in a wide range of applications.

Movement with six degrees of freedom ensures maximum flexibility in positioning

With the XPlanar system, Beckhoff opens up new paths in plant design: the planar movers hover jerk-free and contact-free over planar motor tiles in any desired arrangement. They can be moved two-dimensionally at speeds of up to 2 m/s, with 2 g acceleration and 50 µm positioning accuracy, silently and without abrasion.

The planar motor system, which is scalable to suit needs, can significantly simplify the design of machines and plants and enables new freedoms in machine design. Due to the enormously flexible mover positioning and the very high movement dynamics, it is possible, for example, to divide product flows very easily and individually. Where robots or other inflexible mechanical devices have been used up to now, the XPlanar offers an efficient and flexible solution. The non-contact movement of the movers also eliminates wear, emissions and the carry-over of impurities. The XPlanar is therefore also ideally suited for applications with high hygiene standards, such as those that must be adhered to when transporting sensitive workpieces.

The first XPlanar application was realized in a plasma coating process. The company Plasmatreat used XPlanar mover tiles to position plastic parts in a coating production cell to improve flexibility, precision and speed.

TwinCAT integrates all engineering and runtime processes on a central software platform.
TwinCAT integrates all engineering and runtime processes on a central software platform.

TwinCAT: the integrated engineering and control platform

TwinCAT integrates all engineering and runtime processes on a central software platform. This applies to programming, configuration, real-time environment and all runtime modules. By programming in the common IEC PLC dialects and integrating C/C++ algorithms, machine manufacturers can freely choose the most suitable programming method depending on the qualifications of the programmers, the service strategy and the need to protect expertise. With the integration of MATLAB®/Simulink®, controller concepts are developed based on models, thus contributing to virtual machine design. By using Microsoft Visual Studio® as integrated programmer workbench, different version control systems are supported and teamwork is simplified. For series production, TwinCAT offers open interfaces for the integration of commercial IT systems for machine program generation.

  • Extensive TwinCAT libraries for motion control save development time thanks to tested and optimized algorithms. The TwinCAT PTP and TwinCAT NC I supplements are ideally suited for handling applications with Cartesian robots. Ready-to-run solutions are available with TwinCAT Kinematic Transformation for other robot kinematics, such as SCARA, Delta and articulated arm.
  • Commissioning and service processes are accelerated and improved with TwinCAT Scope, a software oscilloscope fully integrated into the TwinCAT system architecture, and thus contribute to increasing machine quality.
  • TwinSAFE software-based safety technology simplifies the wiring of complex systems; variants can be mapped in software. This allows, for example, the modular development and commissioning of production cells. Documentation is also simplified and adaptations to additional customer requirements can be implemented quickly.
  • The integrated, browser-based TwinCAT HMI visualization solution enables convenient development and maintenance of visualization objects. The information is presented either on the machines and systems or via the internet using a web browser.
  • TwinCAT IoT provides the prerequisite for data aggregation in the cloud or locally in the production plant. TwinCAT also includes standardized communication protocols for cloud applications.
  • The collected data can be specifically evaluated using TwinCAT Analytics.
  • The TwinCAT interfaces to machine learning algorithms allow the use of AI methods in the traditional control environment.

Motion Control has been an important part of Beckhoff software engineering tools for many years. With TwinCAT PTP and TwinCAT NC I, the requirements of electric drive technology in plastics machines and their peripherals are perfectly covered.
Motion Control has been an important part of Beckhoff software engineering tools for many years. With TwinCAT PTP and TwinCAT NC I, the requirements of electric drive technology in plastics machines and their peripherals are perfectly covered.

TwinCAT Motion Control: perfectly suited for all drive tasks in plastics technology

Motion Control has been an important part of Beckhoff's software engineering tools for many years. With TwinCAT PTP and TwinCAT NC I, the requirements of electric drive technology in plastics machines and their peripherals are perfectly covered. A wide range of software modules for different tasks such as cam plates, synchronization and interpolating movements of several axes are available. NC PTP is perfectly suited for the widely used Cartesian removal systems; integration into the machine controller of the processing machine is easily feasible. The TwinCAT Plastic Application Components are available for stand-alone handling applications. As an industry-specific extension of the TwinCAT, they support the widely used Euromap interfaces between injection molding machine and robot, either as Euromap 67 or in the future as Euromap 79 (OPC 40079).

Fast removal processes, such as in-mold labeling with the help of side removal handling, are optimized with PC- and EtherCAT-based control technology: EtherCAT as a fieldbus with virtually delay-free synchronization leads to extremely short cycle times.

Following the philosophy of open automation technology, TwinCAT Motion Control is a tool for the design of production cells that allows the integration of Beckhoff drive components as well as third-party components. TwinCAT NC-PTP is a suitable engineering tool for a variety of drive concepts: from simple switched axes and stepper motors or frequency converters to servo drives.

Different encoder technologies with fieldbus interfaces or direct connection via I/Os are supported. This makes it possible to design production cells modularly, flexibly and at an optimal cost according to market requirements. In particular, the linking possibilities of master and slave axes in almost any structure as well as the powerful and diverse motion functions of TwinCAT cover wide-ranging applications in outstanding fashion. With the Flying Saw software library, for example, trimming units in extrusion lines can be perfectly synchronized. Powerful tools such as the TwinCAT CAM Design Tool and the TwinCAT Scope support machine design and commissioning. PLC libraries with function blocks according to the PLCopen Motion Control standard facilitate programming and save engineering effort through the reusability of the modules.

The open Beckhoff automation platform with integrated Euromap interface based on OPC UA ensures the secure and reliable M2M communication of heterogeneous plant parts or secure data communication to higher-level systems.
The open Beckhoff automation platform with integrated Euromap interface based on OPC UA ensures the secure and reliable M2M communication of heterogeneous plant parts or secure data communication to higher-level systems.

OPC UA: the platform for all future standards in the plastics industry – essentially driven by Beckhoff

Beckhoff has been a staunch advocate of open standards for many years, from a time when proprietary solutions were still widely used. This also includes great commitment in the field of OPC standardization. Beckhoff customers therefore benefit from a particularly extensive interoperability between Beckhoff products and those of third parties.

Beckhoff is one of the few companies that has its products examined annually for real interoperability and stability in the latest versions and with the latest functions. Companion Specifications are currently being defined in the different domains of mechanical engineering. In plastics technology, this is being driven by the Euromap organization. Beckhoff is actively involved in the Companion Specifications for the plastics industry and can therefore promptly integrate new specifications into its products. Within TwinCAT, an OPC UA interface is optionally available (TF6100) that satisfies the corresponding Euromap Companion Specifications. The Euromap 82 (OPC 40082) has been implemented for machine-to-machine communication; the Euromap 77 (OPC 40077) is available for connection to master computers or to the cloud. In addition to the OPC UA-based Euromap interfaces, Beckhoff strongly recommends the use of EtherCAT as a deterministic fieldbus for time-critical processes such as robot synchronization in high-performance injection molding.