Pack Expo kicked off its three day run in Las Vegas today, and automation suppliers wasted no time in rolling out new new components and systems aimed at packaging machine applications. Among the introductions were a couple of interesting systems that first appeared in Europe earlier this year but had not crossed over to North America until now.
One such system comes from Beckhoff Automation, which showed off its new eXtreme Fast Control (XFC) system. Based on industrial PCs, super-fast I/O terminals, and communication over the EtherCAT industrial Ethernet protocol, the system offers typical I/O response times down to 85 μs and overall cycle times of no more than 100 μs. Applications for XFC include tight closed-loop control of speed, position and pressures on a variety of machines.
Another North American debut could be found over at B&R Industrial Automation’s booth. The company demonstrated how its Generic Motion Control (GMC) system can replace a dedicated robotics controller with motion control software that runs on B&R’s controllers. The software includes a variety of robot kinematics, including six-axis articulated arm, SCARA and Delta. The demo at the show involved a six-axis articulated arm robot powered by DC motors, but the GMC system has been shown on servo-driven robots as well. “We wanted to show that we could do things other than servo,” says Helmut Kirnstoetter, B&R’s international sales manager. In fact, the same GMC software can handle not just AC and DC motors but stepper motors and analog outputs too. Aside from robotics, the GMC system also offers CNC controller functionality and can handle general motion control tasks, including coordinated motion. It supports PLC Open motion control function blocks as well as motion control functions developed by B&R.
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If you didn't realize that PowerPoint presentations are inherently hilarious, you have to see Don McMillan take one apart. McMillan -- aka the Technically Funny Comic -- worked for 10 years as an engineer before he switched to stand-up comedy.
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