Previously, communication with the IO-Link end effectors on robots required external wiring, cable installation accessories and a wired controller. This wiring is costly as well as being time- and maintenance-intensive. In addition, cables restrict the freedom of movement and flexibility of the robot arm, increase the weight of the arm and thus reduce the gripping accuracy and speed. A key component that had been missing in robotics to date was a wireless, highly available communication solution designed for this automation segment.
Flexible solutions for robots/cobots
A key component that had been missing in robotics to date was a wireless, highly available communication solution designed for this automation segment.
Conventional wireless solutions, such as WLAN or Bluetooth, are not suitable for control tasks within a single machine area due to the stringent requirements for low deterministic latency times and the scalability for supporting hundreds of sensors and actuators.
To meet these requirements, IO-Link Wireless was developed and specially designed as the standard for high-performance wireless communication in plant automation.
IO-Link Wireless enables seamless and manufacturer-independent connection of the sensor/actuator field level with the automation system level in one machine.
Winner of the German Innovation Award 2020
Groundbreaking: Zimmer Group won the German Innovation Award 2020 in the "Excellence in Business to Business" area in this category back in 2020. The award recognized the innovative gripper solution that shows a combination of the Zimmer IO-Link grippers with CoreTigo IO-Link Wireless technology. At the same time, this system solution underscores the innovative force with which both companies are paving the way toward fully networked production. Thus, the groundwork for successful collaboration of the two companies was laid as early as 2020 and further developments are in the planning stage.
Universal and modular as well as wirelessly networked
Robots play an important role in the manufacturing process of a product. As a result, they must be equipped with technologies from which both the mechanical engineering companies as well as the plant operators will profit.
Wireless technology is rapidly becoming a key technology that closes the connectivity gaps in factory automation and in flexible communication in the machine. Secure, highly available, deterministic, standardized, interoperable and fast communication makes a substantial contribution to the flexibility and modularity of a machine.
The value of wireless communication is evident in numerous stages of machine design, machine production, machine construction and for the operator of the production plants. For production companies, IO-Link Wireless technology offers several benefits and opportunities. The availability of a machine can be increased by means of minimized changeover, standstill and repair times as well as by optimized processes.
For mechanical engineering companies and integrators, the system solution from Zimmer and CoreTigo provides the ability to transform IO-Link grippers and other end effectors into IO-Link Wireless components and integrate them into the mechanical engineering concept in a way that is fast, accurate and secure. This makes it possible to easily adapt all Zimmer gripper systems, for example, and make them wireless.
The advantages of IO-Link Wireless at a glance:
• Cable reduction between the gripper solution and the control system with the same performance, functionality and power as cable-based solutions.
• Compatibility with industrial and process automation protocols (Profinet, Ethernet/IP, EtherCat). Planning, commissioning, operation and maintenance can take place with the aid of standard IO-Link tools. As a result, interoperability with wired IO-Link systems is ensured.
• Power is supplied by the robot.
• New applications are possible (e.g. fast rotating machine components, wireless, intelligent tools and movable system components).
• Easy and cost-effective to use for both retrofits and new configurations.
• Improvement in machine flexibility and modularity with a view toward mass customization and adaptive manufacturing.