Many users of ABB's smaller robots have requested the extension of the IRC5 PMC configuration to the company's larger models, Campbell said. "People who like the PMC version want to reduce the number of control panels on the factory floor in a robot cell by one." To make this configuration possible for the larger drives, the power electronics had to get smaller and dissipate less heat.
The smaller size also makes it possible to fit robot controllers into enclosures that may be already crowded with other components meant to expand and customize a PMC's functionality. These components may include additional I/O channels and interfaces, machine vision controls, network adapters, and power conditioning.
"In manufacturing today, square footage on the factory floor is getting very valuable," said Campbell. "In a large robot installation, such as an automotive manufacturing line, the square footage taken up by control enclosures is staggering. This helps machine builders shrink things down."
The PMC Large is available for ABB's robot models from the IRB 2400 to the IRB 7600, the company's biggest. It includes the standard IRC5 control module along with a large drive module. These modules can be mounted separately in different configurations -- for example, back to back, side by side, or stacked vertically. As many as four drive modules can be connected to a single module for controlling multiple robots or additional axes.