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Robot Controller Shrinks Cell Floor Space

Robot Controller Shrinks Cell Floor Space

Engineers and system integrators who are building robot cells will find it easier to integrate larger robots with an innovation from ABB.

The industrial robot maker has reengineered its IRC5 panel-mounted controller (PMC) to work with the bigger drives on the company's largest robots. The PMC Large, which includes the new, bigger panel-mounted drive module, helps eliminate the separate floor-mounted controller previously required for ABB's robots, said Joe Campbell, vice president of its Robots & Applications Group.

Panel-mounted versions of the robots' controls have been reconfigured to fit the taller, flatter panel-mount enclosure, rather than the traditional cube-shaped floor-mounted enclosure. When traditional floor-mounted enclosures are used for robot controls, most robot cells have a second enclosure that houses other control components -- typically the operator interface, programming interface, logic controls, and safety controls.

Including robot controls in a PMC slightly increases the size of that second enclosure and does away with the floor mount enclosure, Campbell told us. "PMCs let machine builders and integrators shrink the controller's footprint, and therefore the robot cell footprint, and simplify internal cabling."

The panel-mount architecture also provides an additional layer of protection for all the electronics, sealing them off from harsh operating environments. "The floor-mounted robot controller is fairly robust," Campbell said. "Typically, these panels are solid metal, airtight enclosures. But for some applications, the environment taxes even this device."

Some especially harsh operating environments are foundry applications (where the moist, dusty atmosphere requires a sealed cooling system), food applications that require rigorous washdown capabilities, and other environments in which the controller faces excessive vibration, extreme temperatures, or risk of ignition.

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