Alla inlägg av Björn Stegfeldt

Flexible Automation

Flexible automation is a must in today’s’ manufacturing environment for most companies exposed to ever changing trends and varying needs of consumers and end users.

The old style mass production is becoming a faded memory as we go from high volume low variety to low volume high variety. This is becoming increasingly evident with the last years rapid expansion of robot based automation and the increased need for collaborative robots.

This is easily manageable when you know what your needs and variations are, but that is using an old style approach to a new reality. You have to embrace the fact that you will not know what your needs are tomorrow, and be prepared for rapid change. The reality for most companies is that they will need to adapt already available equipment in order to achieve a cost competitive production solution. More often than not, the majority of the movements in any machine is performed with pneumatic actuators due to their simplicity, low cost, and great ranges in ready-made machine elements. The disadvantage with pneumatic actuators is that they are made for end-to-end movement with no simple way of controlling multiple stops or adjustable end positions.

So what is our proposal?

With Staccato Technologies flexible positioning unit, FPU, users can turn their current pneumatic actuators into powerful units, where they digitally can control any position, any speed, and any force, much like a considerably more expensive AC-Servo. Exact position is also returned in a monitor signal, giving constant feedback which is next requirement in machine upgrades. This solution also work on rotary actuators and grippers.

Apart from the obvious cost-savings, machine modifications will also be very quick as you can keep your existing actuators, just add a position sensor and our positioning unit and you have a new flexibility you never thought was possible in the past.

Want to know more? – have a look at some of our application examples on our Youtube channel and contact us for further discussions.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChD2QXuo_6YD_Ej_eIu4ekQ/videos

Are you visting CMTS 2019 in Torronto?

Our Canadian distributor, Shelley Automation will demonstrate their offerings at the CMTS show in Toronto September 30th to October 3rd.

One of the products they will show is our flexible positioning unit, FPU.

Visit their booth, 3217 at the international center

https://s36.a2zinc.net/clients/sme/CMTS2019/public/eBooth.aspx?IndexInList=10&FromPage=Exhibitors.aspx&ParentBoothID=&ListByBooth=true&BoothID=284519

#CMTS2019

Shelley Automation has a wide offering of leading brands in automation. You can visit their website at https://shelley.com/

Directions to The International Center:

https://goo.gl/maps/3EUDRSSn8hmbLumj8

New Function – “Speed control on the fly”

A few customers have asked for both position control and speed control on Pneumatic actuators with our Flexible Positioning unit, FPU.

Eventhough you already can set the required speed in our software, some users want the possibility to change speed on the fly, for example in filling applications, where they want to match the filling speed with the size of container. To accommodate this request, we have implemented this as a standard option. Now you can use one analogue signal for position control and one for speed control.

This is available in units shipped from August 2019. Older units can get a free software update.

Users that want to use this function control the position with 4-20 mA and the speed with 0-10 V. A version with I/O-link is in development and is planned to be released later this year.

Example on the application can be seen at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MM3528zkhVk

New function – Simplified 3 position control

New function – Simplified 3 position control

Some users of pneumatic actuators need the flexibilty of adjustable positioning, but only need three positions, typically that is the two end positions and one more position somewhere in the stroke.

Quite often, this is achieved by combining two actuators, making special 3-position actuators, or by using a separate actuator or stopper cylinder as an intermediate stop. Those solutions are not flexible, and tend to create new issues like space limitations, lead time of parts, reduced life time of the application (especially when using intermediate stops), and they use valuable engineering resources.

Some users want to have a better solution, but don’t want to have to add an analogue output for position control. Furthermore, Long stroke position sensors also add costs.

For those users, we are now introducing an option that can be used in our Flexible Positioning Unit, FPU – 3 Position control.

With a combination of standard PNP pulses with set times, you can now choose between each end position and an adjustable intermediate position on pneumatic actuators. It works on all types of pneumatic actuators, and add a lot of possibilities on rodless actuators. For the intermediate position, you only need a short position sensor.

Users that start with this function and find themselves needing more positions in the future can easily update by switching position sensor, adding an analogue control signal and just changing parameters in the FPU-Unit.

This new function is a selectable option in the standard units from mid July 2019. Users with older units can get a free firmware update.

Digital Pneumatics are here to stay!

See a live demonstration on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8_SvG9B_dng

High Speed valves for liquids

Our high speed valves are now also available for liquids.

One customer has a dedicated interface, an all stainless valve with FKM seals and protection rate IP67.

We have response times down to 1 mS for air and 3mS for liquids. Available in orifices from 1-5mm.

Suitable for harsh and demanding applications, where  other valve suppliers struggle.

The valve has three patents that enable performance and life time no-one else can match. We manufacture our valves in our premises in Stockholm, Sweden.

Life expectancy of 1 Billion Cycles, which means that it will last over 100 years if you switch it 1 time per second 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, or close to 32 years if you cycle it 24/7

Contact us at order@staccatotech.se if you want to know more.

Swedish media coverage:

https://www.metal-supply.se/article/view/665364

http://www.verkstaderna.se/article/view/665418/staccato_slapper_ventiler_for_tuffa_krav

New function added – Force Control

Some customers have asked for Force control possibility on the flexible positioning unit, so we decided to implement it. No need for cumbersome calculations, everything is handled by our software. Simply enter the requested force in Newtons (N). The internal controller calculate and control the pressure to bore size ratio, and ensure any deviations are corrected thanks to the feedback loop from the embedded pressure sensors. The high frequency of the valves will correct for leakages, load variations etc. quicker that you will notice. 

Have a look at the short example on our Youtube channel:

https://youtu.be/qUsnNXXqNAo

Application example, paralell drive of pneumatic actuators

In this application example, we demonstrate how we can adjust the position of one pneumatic actuator with our flexible positioning unit, FPU, and use the feedback signal to control the other actuator, effectively making it a slave of the other. This type of setup can be useful when it is important that parallel actuators move simultaneously. Which delay do you get? typically 10 mS.

A water level is used to demonstrate the alignment precision. We made this example for a customer that want to use one actuator as master and three actuators as slaves.

Watch the video on our Youtube-Channel:

https://youtu.be/-QjPvqvFGO4

New functions added on the Flexible Positioning Unit, FPU

When we discuss with the users of our positioning unit, we sometimes come across new ways of using it, and some of our customers also come with ideas of new functions. The functions that we see a general benefit from get added to the firmware. Most of the new functions can be turned on and off, so the users can choose which functions they want.

In the latest update, we have added the following functions:

Soft-Start

When re-starting an exhausted system, the unit monitor the pressures, and slowly build up pressure to avoid rapid movement that isn’t wanted. Standard on all units from April. Software update available for older units.

Enable function with pre-determined default function

Some customer have asked for an ”Enable signal” possibility, with pre-determined default function when the enable signal dissappear. This function has been added, and can be turned ON or OFF as not all customers want it.

The ”Enable function” has 4 modes that can be chosen for when the ENABLE signal dissappear:

1: Valves passive – all valves closed (trapped air), no movement even if a position signal is sent.

2: Exhausted Position – No air to the actuator even if a position signal is sent.

3: Retracted Position – Actuator return to home position

4: Extended Position – Actuator engage full stroke and stay in end position

Example video : https://youtu.be/jruuFDhkDkk

The enable function is currently only available for users using 4-20 mA position control as we use the voltage port for Enable signal. Next generation of the unit (released in August) will have separate enable port, so it will be available for all users. The enable function possibility is added from April, Software update available for older units.