"Festo is constantly making life easier for users with regard to electric automation," says Gerhard Borho, Head of Festo's Business Unit Electric Automation. In addition to pneumatics, Festo is also continuously expanding its portfolio of electric axes, motors and controllers. Software allows electric actuators to be configured quickly and easily. Festo's automation platform CPX provides a simple means of networking several levels of the automation pyramid.
Both customers' design engineers and Festo project engineers can draw on the extensive Festo product portfolio, including mechanical drive components, motors, axis controllers and firmware, as well as diagnostic and operating equipment for motion control systems and higher-level programmable logic controllers. The automation platform CPX with its individual modules links both pneumatic components and electric drives in factory and process automation systems. "This means that users can design and commission their systems more quickly and easily," emphasizes Borho.
Depending on the specific application requirements, the entire drive technology spectrum incorporating both pneumatic and servopneumatic cylinders is available, with a choice of toothed belts, spindles, recirculating ball bearing guides and linear motor axes available in the case of electric drives. "Everything comes from a single source and is perfectly coordinated. This means there are no interface problems," says Borho.
In recent years, Festo has surprised the automation market with groundbreaking ready-to-install innovations for handling and assembly operations based on electric drive technology. This include the delta robot EXPT, the high-speed H-gantry EXCH, the high-speed T-gantry EXCT and the mini H-gantry EXCM. A common feature of all of Festo's ready-to-install handling solutions is their highly dynamic operation thanks to low moving masses, and the fact that the solutions are built using standard Festo components. A modular axis system allows customers to configure and order their systems.
As Festo continuously develops its configuration software for components and systems, it is becoming ever easier for users to select efficient drives for installation on the sensor/actuator level. Electric drive technology is already receiving a significant impetus from the Festo positioning system "Optimised Motion Series". At the heart of this system is the electric cylinder EPCO. This is a prime example of how electric cylinders can be used simply and cost-effectively in factory automation. Software tools make web configuration and web diagnostics extremely simple. As a result, electric drives are just as easy to work with as pneumatic cylinders.
With interfaces to all components such as drive control systems or valve terminals, the possibilities are endless. Should movements go from point to point, should a position be skipped or is complete path control for robotic solutions required? The Festo control environment is scalable and modular as well as being an integral part of a modular mechatronic system.
Festo, as the performance leader in automation technology, also has a strong position at the control level of the automation pyramid. The automation platform CPX plays a central role here.
Automation platform CPX
Even today, the electrical terminal CPX for valve terminals offers more than just a means of linking the field and master control levels. It features diagnostic facilities and can provide condition monitoring functions. Its individual modules already make it possible to integrate the control of pneumatic cylinders via the modular valve terminals MPA and VTSA together with motion controllers for electric drives. And it already offers integrated safety functions.
For all bus systems
Even today, Festo motor controllers offer a free choice of bus system. CPX can already integrate all normal bus systems and Industrial Ethernet. This means that CPX is well-equipped for the future. Experts predict that the era of Industry 4.0 will mean the end of the present-day chaos of countless different bus systems. There will then be only one single, worldwide standardised protocol, an Internet protocol based on a real-time capable WLAN or Ethernet.
The continuous expansion of the product range from pneumatics to the more than 5,000 electric drive components available today ensures that customers all over the world have access to solutions for a wide spectrum of applications, ranging from small parts weighing just a few grams to large, heavy components weighing 100 kg. Whatever customers are producing – from microchips to toothbrushes, heavy cast parts or bulky cardboard boxes – everything is possible.