Gone are the days of deploying robots for the sole purpose of dealing with hot, heavy and hazardous applications. From beginning to end, robots are now being used to perform primary, secondary and tertiary applications in the Food and Consumer Goods segment. While this uptick in robotic automation usage for material handling is greatly due to the availability of high-quality, affordable robots that offer increased reliability, there is a paradigm shift in the way robot programming happens today that is impacting the market, creating a packaging programming revolution.
In an effort to save costs while simplifying production, end users want the power to have a single source of control over in-house robotic applications without having to manage multiple processors or devices. Traditionally, robots have required a separate proprietary programming language, but increased product changeover and the need to run a variety of packaging combinations on a single line has prompted manufacturers to seek a method of automation control that enables operators to oversee robots and their components in a standard well-known programming environment, where knowledge of specialized robotic programming language is not always required.
Whether it’s picking, packing or palletizing, operators should have the capability to exercise Singular Control™ over every component in their network, so Yaskawa Motoman engineered the MLX family of motion control integration solutions for robots and Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) and machine controllers, creating a user-friendly approach to automation implementation where:
- The robot does not require a separate programming language
- An easy-to-use library of function blocks and sample programs are provided
- A full set of HMI screens reduce the time and effort required to implement a system
- A company’s prior investment in PLC staff is protected; programmers may not need to learn the Yaskawa Motoman robot programming language (INFORM)
The MLX family provides interface options that enable the programming and control of Yaskawa Motoman industrial robots with the widely accepted Yaskawa motion controllers and the Rockwell Automation PLCs, giving end users of robotic automation the ability to deploy and support a broad range of Yaskawa Motoman robots to tackle complex applications intuitively and efficiently. The MLX100 and the MLX200 have paved the way for the MLX300, the next generation of integration for robots, machine controllers and PLCs.
The MLX300 software option is compatible with any DX200 material handling robot or YRC1000 GP-series handling robot, and a combination of up to four robots and positioners can be connected to a single MLX300 system. (A Functional Safety Unit (FSU) is available).
The use of Singular Control with MLX provides a well-integrated environment that leverages the knowledge and experience of the PLC programmer, while giving access to industry leading robot technology. Additionally, this approach simplifies safety design by eliminating redundant electrical interfaces and consolidating hardware to optimize floorspace.
The robots are programmed through intuitive function blocks, which are programmable in Yaskawa’s MotionWorks IEC programming software, or Add-On Instructions (AOIs) within the Rockwell Automation RSLogix 5000® environment. All program execution is performed by the motion controller or PLC; the motion control is handled by the superior kinematic algorithms of the Yaskawa robot controller.
No matter the material handling challenges you’re confronting, there is a solution tool to meet your unique objective. Taking a user-friendly approach to automation implementation with the use of MLX interface options can generate cost savings and improve production for the most complex applications.
Dean Elkins is a Segment Leader, Material Handling at Yaskawa America, Inc. - Motoman Robotics Division