22 Jul 2024


Machine operation is ‘as convenient as a smartphone’

The German controls and automation manufacturer Schleicher Electronic has developed a hand-held operating device that it claims is the first to control machines with the convenience of a smartphone. It predicts that the device will revolutionise the operation of handling systems, industrial robots and machine tools.

The ProNumeric OP 50 M controller has a large touchscreen display and communicates with the system controller via a Web browser. It incorporates a high-resolution (100 increments per rotation) hand-wheel that allows smooth, real-time interaction between the operator and the controller.

The device can link into machine networks via EtherCat or Sercos III, and a ProfiNet version is planned. The real-time Ethernet communications allow a single network to be used for I/O, drives and operating devices.

Schleicher claims that the ProNumeric OP 50 M is the first hand-held operating device of its kind to support the two Ethernet protocols, and therefore the first that can be connected to controllers from a variety of manufacturers.

A gateway that is compatible with both protocols allows the appropriate network to be selected at the flick of a switch. A dual-channel emergency-stop button (certified to DIN 60204) is connected to the gateway via a safety-orientated link.

The integrated Web browser allows the ProNumeric OP 50 M to be disconnected from one machine and reconnected to another. Individual user interfaces are stored not the hand-held device, but on the controller, and can be called up as soon as a new controller is connected.

Tasks that previously needed cumbersome computer inputs can now be performed on the handheld device, giving personnel adjusting machines on-site access to all of the functions needed for fast parameterisation.

The 5-inch resistive touchscreen offers high-resolution graphics and LED backlighting. It can be used even by an operator wearing protective gloves. An LED lamp built into the front can illuminate parts of the work environment where there is insufficient lighting.

The device incorporates a rugged membrane keyboard. Its status and the position of the high-resolution hand-wheel can be read by a controller as I/O data.