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Multi-PC control expands floating transport system

15 May, 2023

Beckhoff Automation has issued a software update for its XPlanar levitating product transport system which allows it to be controlled by multiple computers, thus supporting many more movers operating over a much larger area. Beckhoff says that potential expansions are “infinite”.

The XPlanar planar motor system, launched in 2018, carries items on movers that “float” above an array of tiles and provide up to six degrees of movement. For example, the movers can be spun to mix liquids held in containers they are carrying.

The new update allows an installation to be broken down into modules – thus supporting many more tiles and movers – for handling large-scale applications. Individual subsystems, each controlled by a sub-IPC (industrial PC), allow computationally intensive tasks to be distributed among the system segments.

Movers are handed over dynamically between subsystems with the sub-IPCs communicating with each other, while a supervisory main IPC controls the operation of the entire system. It is also responsible for application programming and diagnostics using TwinCat 3 XPlanar functions. This does not require access from the application to the subordinate sub-IPCs, nor is it necessary when transferring movers between segments, making as easy to create applications and to operate the system operation as it was before.

The software update allows control of large Xplanar systems to be shared between IPCs.

The ability to modularise machines will allow new subsystems to be coupled mechanically to an existing system, if required. The subsystems can be integrated into overall system processes simply by altering the program in the main IPC.

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