Can flexible automation production be implemented according to the requirements of industry 4.0? Yes, underscores SCHUNK, the competence leader for clamping technology and gripping systems, and proved this with evidence at the Hannover Messe. Together with several partners, SCHUNK transforms the visions of the smart factory into reality by showcasing an assembly cell. The most apparent characteristic: The condition and process monitoring, and the communication are directly done at the component level. The smart SCHUNK modules are closing the gap to the handling objects, and allow a consistent flow of information from the gripper finger to the ERP system.
The industry 4.0 assembly cell, which has been designed by SCHUNK, the software specialist ORBIS, the plant builder Erhardt + Abt, plusdrei engineering team, and SIM Automation, impressively shows how Pick & Place units, 3-axis room gantries, robots, and mobile platforms autonomous cooperate during assembly, control, packaging, and transportation, and therefore allow smart production. With every new component, and every priorized order, the cell newly invents the matching choreography. Every individual process step is in detail monitored by sensors, and is reported to the handling system or even the plant control unit and the ERP. The SCHUNK assembly units and handling components and even the system control unit are connected with each other by fieldbus or ethernet, and build a cyber-physical system. Smart, intelligent SCHUNK grippers, lightweight arms, Pick & Place units, and linear direct axis allow a decentrallized control on the components level, making a dynamic and flexible process. “The intelligence of handling components is a decisive key on the way to building a smart factory,” Dr. Markus Klaiber, TCO of SCHUNK said.
Integrated communication and control of process
The precondition of such a scenario is already given: SCHUNK mechatronic grippers and SCHUNK force-moment sensors which can be adjusted by force and position, allow precise condition monitoring. The SCHUNK FT sensors detects slightest deviations even before a failure of malfunction could happen, and creates the best preconditions for a predictable and effective intervention in the framework of a predictive maintenance. They allow a decentralized intelligence within the individual task, and are suitable for controlling the process parameters, decentralized quality assurance, and documentation of the quality criteria. SCHUNK grippers, change systems, and rotary feed-through which are suitable for fieldbus, present a barrier-free communication between component and system. Versatile SCHUNK gripping modules, efficient change systems, and highly dynamic, freely programmable linear direct axes finally allow a flexible process design at a maximum productivity.
Mechatronic or pneumatic
A mechatronic high-end solution is not required for every industry 4.0 scenario. Three of the altogether six stations of the SCHUNK assembly cell have been conventionally equipped with pneumatics, and by means of intelligent SCHUNK Sensors they are ready for the smart production. “No matter if pneumatic or mechatronic, gripping, turning, changing, Pick & Place or translational motions: SCHUNK offers the matching component for the smart factory,” said Dr. Markus Klaiber. Users can freely choose among the standardized SCHUNK product range, the degree of intelligence and flexiblity of every individual process step. “Depending on the application it can be sufficient to equip a pneumatic SCHUNK gripper with a sensor which is suitable for industry 4.0. Two stations further, the highly flexible mechatronic SCHUNK solution may be the better choice,” explained Klaiber. No other manufacturer covers such a broad range of industry 4.0 suitable actuators as SCHUNK does.