The Festo Motion Terminal VTEM, one of the first products of the Industry 4.0 era, combines digitalisation and pneumatics. Quickly activated software apps are revolutionising pneumatics by increasing flexibility and energy efficiency, and accelerating production processes. This also leads to many benefits for the construction and the operation of textile machines.
The Festo Motion Terminal VTEM catapults pneumatics into the age of Industry 4.0 – with apps that can replace over 50 individual components. Just as the smartphone turned the mobile communication market on its head a decade ago, so too is the Festo Motion Terminal set to revolutionise automation technology. The new type of function integration – combined with software apps – simplifies the entire value chain, since only one piece of hardware is now required. Thus the experts view the Festo Motion Terminal VTEM as a revolution in automation technology.
Thanks to the fast activation of new functions via apps, machine developers can create a basic machine type and then, depending on which apps are selected, equip it with different functions and features as per the customer’s requirements. Assigning functions via software has the added benefit of preventing tampering and protecting know-how, since it’s not possible to tell from the outside which functions the valves are executing. Maintenance is also simplified, as long lists of spare and wearing parts will be a thing of the past.
True Industry 4.0
Piezo technology, integrated stroke and pressure sensors together with control via motion apps will open up entirely new perspectives for machinery and plant manufacturers. The fusion of mechanics, electronics and software featured in the Festo Motion Terminal will transform a pneumatic product into a true Industry 4.0 component, and enable flexible production. Changes in pneumatic functions and adaptations to new formats are controlled via apps by changing parameters The integrated intelligent sensors for control, diagnostics and self-learning tasks will eliminate the need for additional components.
Functions which up to now were only possible thanks to additional components in the pneumatic control loop can now easily be chosen via motion apps: from basic modification of the directional control valve functions to energy-efficient motion, and from proportional behaviour to different motion profiles. What makes this so special is that the same valve hardware is used for everything. Thanks to the fast activation of new functions via apps, machine developers can create a basic machine type and then select the relevant apps to equip it with different functions and features as per the customer requirements, Further apps are in development.
Assigning functions via software has the added benefit of protecting against tampering and protecting know-how, since it is not possible to tell from the outside which functions the valves are executing. Maintenance is also simplified, as long lists of spare and wearing parts will be a thing of the past.
Intrinsic energy efficiency
The specially developed motion apps as well as the leakage diagnostic function save energy during operation. However, the energy-saving piezo technology for the proportional valve's preliminary stage also plays its part.
The air consumption can be flexibly adapted to the requirements using the apps “Selectable pressure level” and “ECO drive”. With the selectable pressure level, a digitally selected pressure can limit the pneumatic force to the level required for the application. ECO drive reduces the compressed air consumption to the required minimum level, provided no pressing and holding forces are needed in the end position. This enables savings of up to 70% compared with standard operation, depending on the application.
Lower costs and complexity
The Festo Motion Terminal permits both fast and powerful movements and leakage diagnostics at much lower costs than current solutions. For example, fewer controllers are required compared with electrical solutions since one controller can control up to eight movements with the VTEM. Energy consumption is also reduced, and the required installation space is decreased by up to 65%.
In a comparison of the technology, solutions with the Festo Motion Terminal offer truly cost-effective alternatives for eight applications. Instead of a valve, a pressure regulator and a pressure sensor, in other words three components, only one single technology - a valve - is needed.