Communication between injection moulding machines and robots
Leading European injection moulding machine and robot manufacturers met at KUKA in Augsburg on 14 June 2016 to develop a communications interface fit for the future.
Reducing cycle times and hence increasing efficiency is the main goal of automation. If machines are to work together so that this functions smoothly, standardised interfaces are required. EUROMAP, the umbrella organisation for the European plastics and rubber machinery manufacturers, has offered recommendations for such interfaces for quite some time, and they are widely recognised as industrial standards within the industry.
At present, injection moulding machines and robots communicate using a plug-in connector standardised according to EUROMAP 67. With machines and processes becoming increasingly complex, this hardware interface is now reaching its limits. For this reason, a European working group of experts from injection moulding machine and robot manufacturers has for a year now been working on the development of a successor interface that will be fit for the future. Like the interface between injection moulding machines and master computers, which is also under development, the new EUROMAP 79 will be based on OPC UA. This open standard is becoming increasingly important in the context of Industry 4.0.
The meeting at KUKA on 14 June included further discussions of the functional signals that are to be transmitted via the interface. Unlike connection to a master computer, the injection moulding machine-robot combination makes greater demands on the system's real-time capability in order, for example, to coordinate movements and avoid collisions. But the OPC Foundation's TSN (Time Sensitive Network) creates the conditions here too for these demands to be met.
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