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PLC-controlled robots swing into action

01 September, 2003

PLC-controlled robots swing into action

America`s largest manufacturer of industrial robots has developed a technology that allows robots to be controlled directly from PLCs. Adept Technology says the technology will allow personnel familiar with PLCs to develop and support robot applications — such as parts-handling, packaging and pick-and-place machinery — without needing to be robot experts.

"Connecting robots to a PLC is nothing new," says Adept executive vice-president, Charlie Duncheon. "What`s unique about the Adept Cobra PLC robot family is that the robots are programmed and controlled directly from the customer`s PLC. The user simply connects the Adept PLC server to their PLC and programs the robot directly from the PLC`s native programming environment.

Duncheon adds that this approach is "unique" in that "no emulation of ladder logic is performed and no soft PLC is used — it is direct control of the robot by the PLC".

The Adept system (shown above) combines a high-performance Scara robot with a PLC server that allows direct programming from an Allen-Bradley PLC via a serial connection. The application programs reside in the PLC. The server retrieves this data and commands the robot to move.

Initially the PLC-controlled robots are available in two four-axis versions, one with a reach of 600mm, the other with a reach of 800mm. Both have a rated payload of 2kg, and a maximum payload of 5.5kg.

Duncheon predicts that the system will allow Adept "to expand into markets where industrial robots were traditionally perceived as too complex to implement and maintain".

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