When a machine draws components from a variety of automation and robotics suppliers, the resulting complexity can hinder performance and usability. FG Industries, a pioneer of robotic filling and capping machines, found the answer in B&R's openROBOTICS solution, which seamlessly integrates COMAU robots into the B&R automation environment. The full-B&R solution brought a 20% increase in productivity, a streamlined new user interface, substantial energy savings and improved remote diagnostics.
A decade ago, FG Industries pioneered the introduction of robotic solutions for liquid filling and bottle capping. This approach yielded increased output and flexibility in bottling lines that feature feeders, fillers, sealers, labelers, cappers, case packers and palletizers.
The company's first robotic fillers and cappers, however, required extensive integration work to coordinate a variety of automation and robotics components from different suppliers, as well as multiple engineering tools and bus systems. "The complexity was hard to manage and hindered the performance and usability of our machines," recalls Benedictus Tang, managing director of FG Industries. "Our systems were not optimally synchronized, and – with different engineers responsible for robotics and automation – diagnostics were difficult as well."
FG Industries found the solution it was looking for with openROBOTICS. The result of collaboration between automation specialist B&R and industrial robotics powerhouse COMAU, openROBOTICS eliminates the cumbersome interfaces traditionally required between robot and machine controllers to create a seamlessly integrated mechatronic solution where the robotics are essentially a plug-and-play component of the automation environment.
FG Industries' newly optimized topology features a single controller for the entire machine setup. The high-performance industrial PC from B&R provides plenty of computing power to handle both machine automation and path calculation for the robots. With openROBOTICS, the UI screens for managing the robots are integrated directly in the HMI application, so no other operator panels are needed.
With its openROBOTICS solution, FG Industries was able to simplify its automation architecture and improve both the usability and the performance of its machines, thanks to continuous synchronization between its filling and capping processes, conveyors and robots. "The perfectly coordinated hardware and software has helped FG Industries improve filling and capping performance by 20% compared to their previous solution," says Tang.
B&R's modular ACOPOSmulti servo drive system is perfectly suited for FG Industries' robotics applications. The design allows side-by-side expansion and plug-and-play operation with minimal cabling. The advanced cooling system also allows optimization of the control cabinet temperature.
Power is supplied via a stabilized DC bus, which further increases the efficiency of the overall solution. Power factor correction reduces the apparent power intake of the drive system to the effective power of the machine, while active regeneration further optimizes utilization.
Better utilization of the existing power supply, lower overall power usage and elimination of reactive power all contribute to a substantial improvement in energy efficiency. Further gains were achieved by replacing the pneumatic components with ACOPOSmicro servo controllers and LinMot linear motors.
Operators can also access both the HMI application and the integrated System Diagnostics Manager (SDM) over a wireless network using a tablet or a smartphone. B&R's SDM tool allows maintenance personnel to perform local or remote diagnostics. "The integrated diagnostics features allow us to offer effective after-sales support and easy servicing for minimal downtime," says Tang.
With a single interface providing access to the entire machine, the robots, processing units, safety technology and HMI application can be diagnosed efficiently from anywhere on the planet. Diagnostic functions that used to require laborious programming come ready to use in SDM, simplifying the overall diagnostics process and shortening the amount of time needed to get the machines up and running.
FG Industries was able to significantly reduce the total number of suppliers, with all automation components coming from a single source. "As a company, we challenge ourselves every day to be the most innovative designer of robotic filling and capping machines in the world," says Tang." "By reducing our engineering costs, this integrated solution has allowed us to invest more in innovation." As for the complexity that does remain, Tang says: "That's handled easily by the B&R system."
In FG Industries' Robofiller and Robocapper machines, POWERLINK transfers setpoint values to the servo drives every 400 microseconds and provides enough bandwidth to handle two entire robots as well as additional brushless and linear motor axes, analog and digital I/O, diagnostics and safety data as well as additional fieldbus interfaces. The open network allows flexible combinations of 3rd-party masters and slaves so that FG Industries' machines can be easily incorporated into existing IT infrastructures.
Managing Director, FG Industries
"By reducing our engineering costs, this integrated solution has allowed us to invest more in innovation. The complexity that does remain is handled easily by the B&R system."