- Register


Home >Future perfect form

Future perfect form

23 October 2015

If you go to any automation show, you can always spot the Festo stand - it’s the one with the crowds of people, as Charlotte Stonestreet found out when she visited the company at the Motek trade fair

There’s no doubt that Festo’s Bionics create a stir. In an exhibition landscape of pick and place systems, the inspired-by-nature projects really stand out and are a great talking point. However, the technology goes way beyond a crowd pleasing gimmick.

The butterflies that took centre stage at Motek don’t just have aesthetic appeal, they illustrate complex technologies that can be leveraged in future production, such as functional integration, ultra-lightweight design and, most notably, realtime networked communication between individual systems.

Communication and sensor technology ensures collision-free collective behaviour

The coordination between the autonomous flight butterflies is enabled by a well-networked external guidance and monitoring system. The communication and sensor technology used, which constitutes an indoor GPS system, ensures collision-free collective behaviour of the butterflies. The integrated electronics and external camera technology enables process stability thanks to an intelligent guidance and monitoring system.

While all this might seem a little removed from the day to day industrial environment, you only have to look at the emerging prevalence of collaborative robots – requiring intuitive interaction between man and machine – to realise that it doesn’t take a huge step for this technology to have practical application in the real world.

New actuators

Another highlight of the Festo stand came in the form of three new actuators the company has added to its Optimised Motion Series (OMS) of electrical positioning systems. Cost-effective and simple-to-use, they have been designed to allow machine builders and system integrators to improve both motion control and profit margins in solutions such as light assembly applications, baggage inspection systems and lab specimen handling.

The guided EPCO electric cylinder – designated EPCO-G – provides simple positioning with strokes of up to 400mm. With an integrated guide unit, EPCO-G can withstand high axial and radial loads, which means it can be utilised in a wide selection of handling systems.

Available in three sizes (16, 25 and 40), it can achieve speeds up to 500 mm/s and provides high stiffness in a low weight system, giving high performance over a long service life.  Life-time lubrication means it is maintenance-free. Mounting and installation are also easy, saving time and costs associated with set up and maintenance. The guide unit can also be ordered as a single unit for easy retrofitting to existing EPCO cylinders.

The ERMO is an electric rotary drive that meets the same high performance criteria as Festo’s previous rotary drives but at a more attractive price. Suitable for compact process stations and pick and place applications due to its angle flexibility and rotation capabilities, the ERMO is easy to commission allowing machine builders to ‘plug and work’.

With a maximum angular velocity of 600°/sec, torque of 5Nm and repetition accuracy of between ±0.05° and ±0.1°, the ERMO electric rotary drive can be used for a range of rotating, placing, turning and pivot drive handling systems.

Finally, the ELGR linear belt drive axis is now available with a highly corrosion resistant chrome rod and bearing material, meaning it provides a reliable and robust solution in more arduous environments. The ELGR is an exceptionally cost-effective solution for feedforces upto 35kg and is available as a completely mounted sub assembly enabling machine builders to save time and costs with commissioning and set up. A cost effective motor package also comes as part of the axis, making this an ideal system for a wide variety of handling applications, where simple linear movements are required.

All products in the OMS product family can be easily mounted together to create a complete 2, 3 or 4 axis handling system which can be best adapted for each user’s individual requirements, enabling them to build efficient and reliable machines.

Key Points

  • Festo’s autonomous Bionics butterflies illustrate complex technologies that can be leveraged in future production
  • Three new actuators added to Festo’s Optimised Motion Series (OMS) of electrical positioning systems
  • All products in the OMS product family can be easily mounted together to create a complete 2, 3 or 4 axis handling system