Embarking into New Territory – PLC-Based Robotic Systems

Mar 11, 2015

Robots.com has built a Programmable Logic Control (PLC)-based system that is controlled by one small blue box. The system built by Robots.com is a palletizing system that will palletize buckets of laundry detergent. They chose the Motoman MPL 160 robot for this because it is a top speed, highly reliable robot.


Robots​.com has been build­ing robot sys­tems for more than 20 years, but there is a large pal­letiz­ing robot on the floor that is caus­ing a lot of excite­ment. Unlike the oth­er sys­tems that have con­troller cab­i­net brains”, the brain” of this robot is com­plete­ly con­trolled by one small blue box, which com­mu­ni­cates with the Pro­gram­ma­ble Log­ic Con­troller (PLC) to get things done. This is the first PLC-based robot­ics sys­tem that Robots​.com has ever built, and while the com­pa­ny is sail­ing into new ter­ri­to­ry, the prospects are exciting.

What is the sys­tem exact­ly? The sys­tem is a pal­letiz­ing sys­tem that will be pal­letiz­ing buck­ets of laun­dry deter­gent for a com­pa­ny in Geor­gia. They are intro­duc­ing a new buck­et line into their facil­i­ty, and they want a way to speed up their pal­letiz­ing appli­ca­tion. The buck­ets will trav­el down a con­vey­or, and the Motoman MPL160 pal­letiz­ing robot will stack the buck­ets onto pal­lets locat­ed to the right and left of the robot. The sys­tem includes a two-fin­ger pneu­mat­ic grip­per, and an entire host of light cur­tains, gate switch­es, and fenc­ing to ensure that the robot is not mov­ing into an area where a human may be working.

The MPL160 is a great robot for this sys­tem because, accord­ing to Motoman, it has a per­for­mance-dri­ven design, it is easy to use, and it is a high­ly reli­able robot. The MPL 160 is also ben­e­fi­cial to the work cell because all of the air­lines and cables are inter­nal­ly rout­ed, which means they don’t have the poten­tial to catch on any­thing and tear or snap. Along with being com­pat­i­ble with the PLC-based con­troller, MPL160 is also com­pat­i­ble with Pal­let­Solver soft­ware, which helps man­u­fac­tur­ers cre­ate pal­letiz­ing pat­terns with speed and ease.

So, the robot and the sys­tem are great, but what is the deal with this whole PLC-based sys­tem? This is the first PLC-based sys­tem Robots​.com has designed and cre­at­ed. Most of our oth­er sys­tems are run with con­troller cab­i­nets, which have teach pen­dants and have the poten­tial to take up lots of space on the shop floor. The MLX-200 is the brain of the MPL160. It is the Mag­ic” box that feeds infor­ma­tion to the PLC and makes every­thing happen.

Here is the break­down of how this sys­tem works – RSLogix 5000 pro­gram­ming tool (the PC based teach pen­dant) com­mu­ni­cates with the Com­pact­Logix and Con­trol­Logix PLCs which then com­mu­ni­cate with the MLX200, which then com­mu­ni­cates with the dri­ve pan­el, which is con­nect­ed to the MPL160’s ser­vo motors. The MLX200 then feeds the pro­gram­ming into the robot, so it is able to begin its cycle and keep up.

One of the main dif­fer­ences between the reg­u­lar cab­i­net con­troller and the PLC-based con­troller is the lack of a teach pen­dant. All of the func­tions orig­i­nal­ly car­ried out on a teach pen­dant are now car­ried out on a com­put­er screen. You can order a teach pen­dant if you so choose, but it does not come with the stan­dard model.

How­ev­er, space-sav­ing and teach pen­dants are not the only ben­e­fits of using a PLC-based con­troller like the MLX200 for this robot­ic pal­letiz­ing sys­tem. This PLC sys­tem is extreme­ly ver­sa­tile. Mul­ti­ple robots can be pro­grammed and con­trolled through one PLC, and in turn, that PLC be con­nect­ed to mul­ti­ple MLX200s. The MLX200 can sup­port a vari­ety of Motoman robots avail­able on the mar­ket today, and advanced con­vey­or track­ing is a per­fect­ly suit­ed func­tion offered by the MLX200 for many dif­fer­ent appli­ca­tions, includ­ing pal­letiz­ing applications.

Over­all, the ver­sa­til­i­ty of both the MPL160 pal­letiz­ing robot and the MLX200 PLC-based con­troller is what attracts com­pa­nies and con­sumers to both of them. The MLX200 is avail­able for a wide vari­ety of Motoman robot mod­els, and the MPL160 has the func­tion­al­i­ty to impress dur­ing its improved pro­duc­tion process.

Are you inter­est­ed in learn­ing more about our PLC-based pro­gram or our future with a PLC-based pro­gram? Con­tact Robots​.com experts today at 8777626881 or reach them online.

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