23 Jul 2024

AUTOMATION FOR MANUFACTURING

Servomotors talk via wireless IO-Link rather than cables

Siboni is using wireless IO-Link to cut cabling costs and maintenance, and to add flexibility to its servomotors

The Italian motor manufacturer Siboni has developed a range of servomotors that use wireless IO-Link links to controllers instead of conventional cable connections. The high-speed, low-latency communications technology is said to offer practical and cost benefits, especially in applications such as packaging machinery and robots where high-speed rotary movements make conventional connections difficult to install and maintain.

Siboni is using a wireless version of IO-Link developed by an Israeli company called CoreTigo, whose TigoAir IO-Link Wireless SOM (system-on-module) devices are embedded in the motors. These communicate with an IO-Link Wireless Master (called TigoMaster). This, in turn, communicates with a PLC via a choice of industrial Ethernet protocols, including Profinet, EtherNet-IP or EtherCat, or other protocols such as OPC UA. The master also sends control messages back to the motor.

IO-Link Wireless – which complies with the IEC 61131-9 standard – operates with a latency of 5ms (guaranteed within a 10m radius) and synchronisation rates measured in tens of microseconds. If transmission over a longer distance than 10m is needed, the communication continues to be stable, but with longer cycle times.

The wireless IO-Link connections allow actuators and sensors to be connected without communications cables, thus cutting the need for maintenance, increasing flexibility, and simplifying future I/O additions. A single power cable runs through the centre axis or slipring of rotating platforms such as rotary tables and carousels used in labelling and filling machines.

Applications where Siboni expects its wireless servomotors to be useful include:
robots, where wiring can be difficult or can wear out due to repetitive operations;
autonomous logistics systems such as AGVs (automated guided vehicles) and LGVs (laser guided vehicles);
smart track systems where wireless drives installed on movers can carry out operations that would otherwise require complex mechanical installations; and
applications involving sliding contacts, where the wireless technology can reduce the size and cost of sliprings.

“Servomotors are a great example of how deterministic real-time wireless connectivity enables new capabilities and enhances existing machinery,” says Matteo Orlandelli, director of CoreTigo’s Italian operation. He describes the development of the wire-free motor as “groundbreaking” and predicts that “will pave the way for the entire industry”.

Other industrial equipment suppliers are also starting to use IO-Link Wireless. At the recent Hannover Messe, for example, Emerson was showcasing “a new era of wireless automation solutions” based on the CoreTigo technology, which will allow machine-builders and manufacturers to connect devices that were previously impossible to connect, as well as collecting data from machines in challenging locations, and achieving “new levels of control flexibility”. Last year, Emerson’s venture capital arm, Emerson Ventures, invested in CoreTigo.

The Italian robotics supplier DEA Cobotics is also using Wireless IO-Link in its machines. It says that the deterministic technology provides cable-grade reliability with low latencies. Particular attractions for robotics applications include: reducing weight in the arm; enabling automated changing tools; increasing speeds; and extending the reach of the arms and their ability to rotate.

The Swiss machine-builder Rotzinger is using wireless IO-Link in a food packaging machine incorporating a multi-carrier smart conveyor that performs processes on products while they are moving at high speeds. Cables were not an option for this complex, high-speed task, nor were conventional wireless technologies. IO-Link Wireless is allowing Rotzinger to control grippers on the carriers wirelessly, without needing external robots, cables or other equipment.

SiboniLinkedIn

CoreTigoTwitter  LinkedIn  Facebook