Top Reasons to Consider FANUC PLC Motion Control
| By: Haresh Moradia, Senior Electrical Engineer, FANUC America Corporation
In today’s highly flexible manufacturing industry, robotic automation combined with PLC control is an exciting solution that has become increasingly popular. FANUC has leveraged its existing technologies with Rockwell Automation and PLCopen standards to develop FANUC add-on instructions for PLC motion control. This collaboration has resulted in a product called “PLC Motion Control Interface,” which enhances the PLC’s central control as a motion interface between the FANUC robot controller and the Rockwell Automation PLC. The interface provides automation customers with a wide range of advantages, including:
- Centralizing Motion Control
- Programming in a Ladder Environment
- Minimizing the Skill Sets Required for Robotic Applications
- Improving Efficiency in Application Development Time
- Improving Software Quality
- Decreasing Maintenance Costs
Centralize Motion Control: At the heart of many industry applications is a central processing unit which handles the interaction of plant automation in highly complex systems. In many of these systems, robotic applications are deployed and integral to cell operations. Now, with the PLC Motion Interface option, control over robotic motion can be handled by the PLC using FANUC add-on instructions versus programs developed in the robot controller using teach pendant programs. Centralizing robotic function to the PLC ensures a single point of control that can be managed by plant maintenance personnel who do not need to know how to troubleshoot and debug robotic teach pendant programs. This advantage helps companies minimize costs associated with hiring experienced robot programmers for plant operations and maintenance.
Programming in a Ladder Environment: Across many industries, controls engineers are vital to the daily maintenance and support of automation equipment. Controls engineers are very familiar with PLC programming and ladder logic. The PLC Motion Interface offers controls engineers the ability to develop programs using ladder logic to execute robot motion without the need to create teach pendant programs typically required for FANUC robot controllers. This feature empowers controls engineers to take the lead on robotic programming in a ladder environment that takes advantage of their core expertise.
Minimizing the Skill Sets Required for Robotic Applications: For controls engineers, the requirements for learning a robot language can be overwhelming, especially considering there are so many different robot types and sizes available today. However, with FANUC’s PLC Motion Interface, robot programming knowledge is no longer necessary. Controls engineers using FANUC’s add-on instructions can now leverage their skill set to program robot motion based on a series of standards set forth by the PLCopen organization. So, an experienced controls engineer using a common set of instructions that outline robot motion requirements can quickly and easily develop the necessary ladder logic to initiate robot motion.
Improve Efficiency in Application Development Time: Since all programming is central to the PLC, standard routines and instructions can be built and created from the standard set of add-on instructions to create motion routines for motion control. The PLCopen.org standards are employed with this interface and therefore instructions based on these standards are common across the industry. Common standards allow for more efficient programming because template structures can be used for a variety of robot models. Even though FANUC manages the kinematics, programs are deployed within the PLC to perform the execution of motion commands. As users design and create programs to a specific standard for robot motion, they can be deployed to other systems without the need to program the robot. The result is an immediate improvement in the efficiency of application development time.
Improve Software Quality: When teams are engaged in a common application development, improvements in quality follow. Teams are more focused on developing the core application, meaning how motion control is to be deployed versus how to develop teach pendant programs across various robot models. When programmers are required to work independently rather than as a team to develop teach pendant programs for various robot models, software quality diminishes. With PLC Motion Control, the robot model is independent of the programming necessary to improve robot software quality. That means that programmers can focus their attention on how robot motion should be handled by the central unit. This creates a common architecture and template that can be deployed to any robot model. With this improvement in software quality, programmers have the advantage of creating a template for robotic motion across many models by simply adjusting points within the PLC.
Decrease Maintenance and Update Costs: When a central unit is used throughout the automation facility to control robotic motion, the costs required to maintain systems is greatly reduced and programmers no longer have to manage both PLC control and robot controller maintenance. That means it’s no longer necessary for staff to have specialized robot knowledge for its motion control since all motion control is now handled and executed by the PLC. Additionally, a single point of control is all that is required to make updates across multiple platforms.
The FANUC PLC Motion Control Interface option has come a long way since its first introduction in 2018. In less than three years, many companies have taken advantage of this feature in order to deploy applications using PLC Motion Interface. The success of this feature has gained significant attention in North America, and has sparked global demand. Increased demand has led to the introduction of the PLC I/O Motion Interface that allows PLCs other than Rockwell Automation to be interfaced, including ProfiNET and EtherCAT. FANUC sees continued success with these features that enable global industries to take advantage of centralizing motion control to upper level systems such as PLCs.
If you’re interested in learning more about FANUC’s PLC Motion Control platform, or thinking of adding automation to any of your production processes, visit: https://www.fanucamerica.com/solutions/automation-evaluation to request more information and speak with an automation expert.