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Circular movers give levitating transport system a novel spin

26 January, 2023

Bosch Rexroth is latest contender to join the burgeoning market for levitating transport systems for production lines. Unlike most other systems, which use rectangular “movers” to carry items while floating above electromagnetic tiles, Rexroth’s ctrlX Flow6D system uses circular movers that can rotate and tilt as they move. The movers can also supply power and communications wirelessly to items such as sensors and actuators that they are carrying, and can travel up vertical walls or even suspended below overhead work surfaces.

As the name suggests, the movers have six degrees of freedom, including tilting by up to 10 degrees and rotating endlessly as they move. These degrees of freedom can be combined with each other. The movers can float at a height of up to 20mm above (or below) their tiles – more than some rivals.

Rexroth says that the technology, which it demonstrated at the SPS exhibition in Germany, will allow entirely new production system concepts and workflows. For example, the movers can operate in process chambers, allowing transport and process tasks to be combined. The additional degrees of freedom mean that fewer peripheral devices are needed. As a result, the system becomes more compact and less costly.

Steffen Winkler, sales manager of Bosch Rexroth’s automation and electrification solutions business, says that the transport system will “form the backbone of a flexible and efficient production facility. As an open system, it can interact seamlessly with various other systems. Software-controlled production allows it to be adapted to changing products or processes quickly.”

The system is designed to integrate into Rexroth’s ctrlX Automation platform, resulting in compact controls and the possibility of using apps to increase the range of functions.

Rexroth’s ctrlX Flow6D system uses levitating discs to carry, power and monitor items on production lines

Several movers of different shapes and sizes can operate simultaneously and independently on the same surface. Their friction-free travel avoids abrasion and results in quiet, non-polluting operation. In the event of a power cut, the movers are designed to land and park safely and gently.

Rexroth believes that modular, adaptable planar system will be attractive to many industrial sectors, including semiconductor manufacturing, food production, pharmaceuticals and assembly.

Bosch Rexroth:  Twitter  LinkedIn  Facebook

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