Pneumatic components need plenty of smarts to function as part of today's increasingly complex automation systems. And in a bid to make its pneumatics the smartest ones on the i/o block, Numatics has revamped its flagship line of modular communication electronics.
This new G3 platform offers increased intelligence in the form of new diagnostic functions and enhanced plug-and-play capabilities for individual modules. And for the first time, Numatics has added a graphical display rather than the usual LED indicators. The display supports plain-language messaging of diagnostic information at both the module and communication node levels and also shows set-up and version tracking information.
Like the earlier G2 platform, G3 is a modular system that allows network nodes of valve-control and i/o modules to be distributed on a production machine. "But the G3 offers a different kind of modularity, one that better balances costs and benefits," says Enrico DeCarolis, Numatics' director of technology development.
"There's an inherent cost to modularity," he says. Some of that cost relates to mechanical design - for example, the cost of sealing and physically connecting modular electronics. And even more cost comes down to configuring the communications as distributed systems grow ever larger.
G3 has provisions to address both types of costs. According to DeCarolis, G3 makes use of a new self-addressing algorithm and a module-to-module subnetwork to allow users to add or remove individual modules from a node without having to configure them manually. This plug-and-play capability is furthered by the G3's mechanical design, which allows modules to be added or removed without disassembling the node.
G3 also expands on i/o density and flexibility. The G3 supports up to 16 modules per communication node, up to 512 i/o points and 32 valve solenoids. With a maximum of six modules per node, the G2 supported up to 192 discrete output points, 96 inputs per communication node and 32 valve solenoids.
As for flexibility, the G3 uses the same modules to handle i/o, valves or both. With the G2, distributed modules could handle valves or i/o but not both. "They were mutually exclusive in the past," says DeCarolis. "Now it will be even easier to distribute the pneumatics around large machines."