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Home >Wireless valve manifold system wins technical innovation of the year award

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Wireless valve manifold system wins technical innovation of the year award

19 June 2019

Reported to be world’s first Integrated Wireless Valve Manifold System, the EX600W has won the Technical Innovation of the Year Award for SMC Pneumatics at the recent Motion Control Industry Awards Dinner & Presentation.

Leading the way in numerous robot applications SMC developed the system to provide robust wireless communications and eliminate the need of network cabling; one single master network node is capable of connecting up to 127 wireless slaves.

According to Bob Hitner, Marketing Manager at SMC UK: “This product is unique in the market, the first of its type, and leads the wireless control of pneumatic technology. It was officially launched in 2018 and it’s already been purchased by several leading organisations in the UK.

“This product was produced following a conversation with one of our customers – a well known Japanese automotive manufacturer with a major production plant in the UK – who asked us to specifically look at an application using several robots. They wanted to eliminate the issue of production downtime due to communication cable failure within a robot.

“Whilst power and air can be supplied very robustly in a robot through the robot arm, the problems associated with fatigue of a communication cable is an industry recognised issue. Obviously in an automotive application the loss of production due to cable fatigue is hugely expensive.”

The EX600 wireless product now provides seamless communication to intelligent valve islands with integrated digital I-O in applications known to be problematic when using industrial networks such as tool changing, rotary table automation and robot applications. Prior to its official launch the wireless valve manifold was put on long-term test and it has proved to be extremely reliable eliminating stops in production due to communications cable failure.

One of the first companies to consider using this new product was Fanuc UK, who asked to trial this product on a small pick and place robot cell, including Load/Unload tables, equator inspection and vision pick conveyor for unloading a CNC Machining centre with a centrally located robot.

Fanuc’s feedback quickly confirmed that considerable time was saved in both the design and production process. Whilst the cost of the wireless solution was slightly higher, this was largely offset by not having to build a robot with a comms cable. Cable maintenance is no longer required and the manifold’s integrated webserver function provides diagnostic information to identify potential system faults.

Marc Budd, Project Manager at Fanuc said: “We strive to use new technology to provide our customers with the most up-to-date solutions. SMC’s EX600 wireless valve manifold is a cutting- edge product that can help you save design, production and commissioning time. Its webserver function means that the master can be accessed from remote locations so that fast fault- finding and diagnostics is ensured, saving both time and money."