The move towards electric automation technology is not without its challenges. In addition to extensive knowledge of electrical systems and software, you also need a comparatively large budget – so it is no wonder that the benefits of electric automation have so far been limited to complex motion requirements. This is now changing: our Simplified Motion Series provides you with an automation solution that bridges the gap between easy-to-install pneumatics and smart electric automation. Simply make your production more efficient with plug and work.
Pneumatics is still the tool of choice for simple movement and positioning tasks. In an increasingly digitized world, however, electrical automation and a continuous flow of information from the workpiece to the controller to the cloud are becoming indispensable. This enables you to reduce commissioning times, ensure that production is cost-effective, and manage shorter product life cycles. As a result, the higher up-front costs of electric automation solutions are offset by savings during operation. And commissioning is now also quick and easy. How is this possible? With our Simplified Motion Series.
The Simplified Motion Series consists of different electromechanical components with an application-optimized combination of motor and servo drive, known as an integrated drive. This means you do not need an external servo drive and you can commission the system quickly and easily. The actuators are ideal for simple movements between two mechanical end positions, without sacrificing optimized motion characteristics, gently cushioned travel into the end position, or simplified pressing and clamping functions.
Neither software nor a PC is needed for commissioning thanks to the plug-and-work system, as all the parameters are set manually on the actuator. You can connect the Simplified Motion Series directly to the controller using digital I/O (DIO) or IO-Link®, which are both integrated as standard.
Basic profile for movement between two end positions, with speed control.
Extended motion profile for simplified pressing and clamping functions as well as speed and force control.
To bring the system into operation, you configure all of the parameters directly on the integrated drive – in a simple and intuitive process without the need for extensive or complex operating instructions:
Pneumatic actuators are the preferred choice for simple applications and motion tasks. These combine simple installation and control with highly attractive up-front costs. As a leading supplier for both pneumatic and electric automation components, Festo has now brought the simplicity of pneumatics to the world of electric automation with the new Simplified Motion Series.
Although pneumatics is the preferred solution for applications requiring simple movements, this technology is increasingly confronted with a digitized world. This is where up-to-date information on the status of the actuator is required to reduce commissioning times, ensure that production is cost-effective, and manage shorter product life cycles. Furthermore, even if pneumatic actuators are the more attractive technology in terms of the up-front costs, the total cost of ownership is what’s truly important. Diagnostics and big data require a continuous flow of information from the workpiece to the controller and the cloud. Traditional pneumatic systems struggle with this challenge, as compressed air cannot transmit data. When these factors are taken into account, it is not surprising that machine manufacturers are increasingly viewing electric motion as a valuable addition or even an alternative to pneumatics.
If you consider the needs and trends in automation, you would expect this transition to happen much faster than it actually does. This can be explained by the development of new pneumatic products and equipment that respond to these new requirements with sophisticated technology. The more obvious explanation, however, is that most complex movements in machines are already performed by electric actuators and that simple movements are easily handled with pneumatics.
And this is where electric actuators have some weaknesses – they are still too expensive and commissioning is too complex. A pneumatic system can easily be brought into operation with moderate expertise and a screwdriver, whereas software knowledge and more extensive training and expertise in electric systems are needed to make electric cylinders run smoothly between two end positions. Festo took this market demand for simple electric actuators and addressed it with the Simplified Motion Series.
The Simplified Motion Series from Festo is not only a new range of electric actuator systems, but was designed from the ground up to offer simplicity in installation.
The heart of the Simplified Motion Series, which was launched in September 2019, is a new integrated motor with a permanently mounted actuator unit that is fully preassembled and available for a wide range of mechanical actuators. This enables linear and rotary movements in a variety of different sizes. As a result, this concept not only reduces the space required for installation, but also minimizes installation time and costs in the production process.
A mechanical installation concept alone doesn’t help close the gap to pneumatics – the deciding factor is functionality. This means that it was important to focus on reducing motion complexity with the Simplified Motion Series in order to create a real alternative.
With a pneumatic actuator, a simple movement between two mechanically defined end positions is triggered by a hard stop or cushioning, and the cycle time is not always perfectly reproducible. With the Simplified Motion Series, a fixed acceleration and deceleration ramp is combined with a constant speed to create a smoothly cushioned and reproducible motion.
Pneumatics has the wonderful ability to switch from a dynamic movement to a pressing mode without additional costs. With traditional electric drive technology, this can only be achieved through additional programming work. The new series now offers an intelligent solution for this. With it, the speed-controlled section is simply shortened and the dynamic movement then changes into a force-controlled pressing movement at this point – configured directly on the actuator and without any programming effort.
The concept of combining the simplicity of pneumatics with the advantages of electric actuators also extends to the control unit, combining software-free commissioning with state-of-the-art control options for simple actuators: digital IO and IO-Link®. The built-in motor is equipped with two standard connections and is based on the plug-and-work principle, without the need for software or parameterization.
To ensure that operation is just as simple, all of the settings can be configured directly on the motor using three buttons and an easy-to-understand LED menu. The speed and force can be set for both directions. In addition, the buttons are also used to set the reference end position and the transition point between speed and force control. Finally, all of the movements can be tested directly on the device using the demo mode. This means that all of the axes on the machine can be brought into full operation without the software engineer even opening their laptop.
The simplest way to control the actuators is via two digital inputs, similar to a 5/3-way pneumatic valve, which makes installation extremely cost-effective. Via two digital outputs, it’s also possible to detect whether the end positions have been reached, like with a proximity sensor – but without the additional cost.
The most interesting feature of the series, however, is the I/O-Link functionality that is integrated as standard and combines simple electric actuators with the world of Industry 4.0 and digitization. With IO-Link®, all of the parameters can be transmitted remotely, copied to several actuators, or used as a backup in case of actuator failure. In addition, it can also be used to read out other parameters such as the distance traveled and the number of operating cycles. This data can then be used for preventive maintenance or sent to the cloud. Finally, IO-Link® can also be used to stop the movement at a predefined intermediate position in the middle of the cycle, thereby avoiding mechanical stops that are common with pneumatics. This makes the Simplified Motion Series even more flexible.
Since both digital I/O and IO-Link® are always included in all actuators in the series, it is possible to take advantage of both options, for example commissioning via IO-Link® and control via digital I/O.
With all the features of software-free commissioning and simple control via digital I/O and IO-Link® brought together in a compact, integrated actuator unit, the Simplified Motion Series is the first solution to offer a perfect combination of the simplicity of pneumatics and the advantages of electric automation. Machine manufacturers can now use electric actuators for very simple tasks and thus elevate their machines to a new level of performance.