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Omron Releases CP2E Series All-In-One Controller For Compact IoT Applications

Omron Releases CP2E Series All-In-One Controller For Compact IoT Applications

OMRON Automation has released its new CP2E Series all-in-one controller that provides advanced control enabling IIoT connectivity for compact machines. The controller improves manufacturing productivity and quality by making it easy to visualise the performance and data of connected machines through simple programming.

Manufacturers are constantly driven to streamline their processes from machine setup to operation and maintenance. Even with compact machines and limited budgets, it’s essential to make good use of production data to visualise machine performance and prevent unexpected shutdowns. However, these demands are difficult to meet because they often require an expensive controller to build an IIoT ready system.

The CP2E enables IIoT connectivity for compact machines cost-effectively. It collects machine performance data and shares the necessary information with enterprise networks, while the predefined program data and function blocks allow anyone to set up machines to perform complex control virtually. This dramatically reduces the time required for programming, testing, debugging, and maintenance.

In addition, the CP2E’s extended operating temperature range makes it a reliable option for machines in non-manufacturing industries, such as infrastructure and agriculture, where the demand for controllers is increasing. These industries typically use non-standard controllers that customers have to manage and maintain using their own expertise, since environmental resistance as well as IIoT is crucial. The CP2E gives these customers a more user-friendly option.

Key features and benefits :

  • Improved connectivity for Ethernet and serial devices– The CP2E has two Ethernet ports with Ethernet switching function – host and HMI connectivity. Up to three serial ports are available for open connectivity to serial devices.
  • Reduced effort for the setup of complex machines– Function blocks make it easy to achieve 4-axis positioning function with linear interpolation, and the CP2E also provides a PID control with autotuning function block for stable temperature control.
  • Simplified troubleshooting- The CP2E’s input/output terminal LED indicators ensure quick and easy root cause identification, while the controller’s ability to automatically detect and recover from bit corruption increase machine efficiency and avoids CPU stops.
  • Increased peace of mind- The CP2E is a reliable “install and forget” solution for demanding environmental conditions, as its extended operational temperature increases reliability in special applications and its battery-free operation reduces maintenance costs.

 

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OMRON Globally Launches LD-250 Mobile Robot To Move Payloads Up To 250kg

OMRON Globally Launches LD-250 Mobile Robot To Move Payloads Up To 250kg

OMRON Corporation will globally start selling a new mobile robot called the LD-250 on November 15, 2019. With a payload capacity of 250kg, the LD-250 is the strongest and newest addition to the company’s LD series of mobile robots. Together with the Fleet Manager, which for the first time in the industry enables the control of multiple mobile robots with different payloads through one system, it will contribute to realising a more flexible and optimised autonomous material transport system.

Factories worldwide are facing challenges in increasing the productivity and profitability of high-mix production with the decreasing workforce in industrialised nations and rising labor costs in emerging countries. The mobile robot LD series can autonomously avoid people and obstacles while automatically calculating the best routes to transport material.

The new LD-250 mobile robot has a 250kg payload capacity and almost double the surface area, so it can be used to transport large automobile components such as transmission blocks and voluminous packaging materials – things that would traditionally be moved by human workers using carts. To optimise the autonomous material transport system, customers will use OMRON’s industry-first Fleet Manager, which can control a diverse fleet of up to 100 of OMRON’s mobile robots that can consist of different payloads and capabilities, by conducting traffic management, battery management, and navigation of vehicles.

“OMRON has been putting great resources in helping customers realise flexible manufacturing with our robotics technologies since the acquisition of U.S. based robotics company Adept Technology, Inc. in 2015, as part of OMRON’s ‘innovative-Automation’ initiative,” said Motohiro Yamanishi, Senior General Manager of the Robotics Business Development Project at OMRON’s Industrial Automation Company, adding, “The new LD-250 will be key in advancing that initiative a step further, by giving customers more choice when automating their material transport operation, an area rapidly being enhanced with mobile robots in industries worldwide.”

With the addition of the LD-250 into OMRON’s mobile robot LD series, customers in a wide variety of industries including automotive, electronics, food and commodities, no longer need to establish fixed material transport equipment, but achieve a system that can flexibly handle changing market demands.  OMRON will continue to contribute solving the societal challenges by liberating workers from the simple, dull, and tiring work of material transport and allowing them to focus on more creative tasks.

OMRON will be exhibiting the new LD-250 at the International Robot Exhibition 2019 to be held in Tokyo, Japan, on Dec. 18-21, 2019.

Highlights of the new LD250 include:

Higher Payload and Sturdier Structure: With a payload of 250kg, the LD-250 is an impressive addition to OMRON’s LD mobile robot series, which until now was comprised of the LD-60 (payload up to 60kg), LD-90 (payload up to 90kg) and the Cart Transporter models that are able to transport up to 130kg.

The LD-250 is built with sturdier metal skins that can withstand unintended external impacts and more demanding duties. It can also automate the transportation of bulky materials that would traditionally be moved around by people using carts. These would include items such as transmission blocks, seats, or wire harnesses in the automotive industry, as well as voluminous packaging materials in the food and commodities industry. The LD-250 will help companies that are increasingly urged to shift workers from material transport operations to other higher value-added tasks.

Highly Mixed Fleet: With OMRON, customers have the ability to easily manage mobile fleets up to 100 robots, which now includes the LD-250. With the LD-250 and the industry-leading Fleet Manager, mobile fleets can be more diverse and still be controlled through the same system without worrying about compatibility or performance.

Faster ROI: The LD-250 allows customers to load more onto a mobile robot, making fewer trips with heavier batches, increasing the return on investment. Customers can mix and match LD models to create the most efficient and flexible material transport system possible.

Customisable: The LD series offers the most customisable mobile solution for industrial environments. The LD-250 can easily be customised with conveyor tops, courier systems, and adaptive material handling mechanics to create a solution that best meets customer needs. LD-250 also takes advantage of OMRON’s ability to customise mobile fleets with accessories that improve performance, such as HAPS*1, side lasers, and the Acuity*2 vision localisation.

The integration of the LD-250 and OMRON TM Collaborative Robots will also open up a new market for heavy-duty “mobile manipulators” that can handle manipulation tasks along with material transport.

 

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OMRON Releases E2EW Series Durable Full Metal Proximity Sensor

OMRON Releases E2EW Series Durable Full Metal Proximity Sensor

OMRON Corporation has launched the E2EW Series Full Metal Proximity Sensors, which boast the world’s longest sensing distances. The sensors enabled both detection stability for different material components and durability with the full metal body. They help enhance productivity in the automotive industry, where downtime leads large production opportunity losses, by reducing risks of sudden stoppages due to sensors occurred in the welding processes for automobiles.

Automotive industry needs lighter weight of automobiles in accordance with the trend of electric vehicles and low fuel consumption, encouraging the material change in automotive components from iron to aluminum. This will increase mixed production lines containing iron and aluminum. Full metal proximity sensors are mainly used in harsh welding processes. However, previous full metal proximity sensors have short sensing distances. In particular, the sensing distance for aluminum is shorter than the one for iron. Therefore, higher accuracy is required for installing proximity sensors for aluminum than iron, making the design, start-up, and maintenance of production lines complicated. With skilled labor shortages becoming severer, however, demand is growing for ways to maintain and enhance facility operation rates without relying on human experience or skills.

The sensing distance are approximately twice as long as previous models for iron, and six times as long as previous models for aluminum, meaning equivalent sensing distances to detect iron and aluminum components. In addition, OMRON’s technologies prevents coating abrasion which allows 60 times longer-lasting spatter resistance than previous models. The E2EW Sensors with its durable body and long sensing distance increase sensor installation flexibility, and they help enhance productivity by streamlining production lines which require skills from the start-up, operation, to maintenance.

 

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The Future Factory – From Single Electric Motors To Endless Possibilities

The Future Factory – From Single Electric Motors To Endless Possibilities

The future factory – from single electric motors to endless possibilities. The use of robotics in industrial applications can be traced back to 1937 when Griffith “Bill” P. Taylor engineered a robot that was powered by a single electric motor. Following patterns on punched paper tapes, the robot could be pre-programmed to perform repetitive tasks such as stacking wooden blocks. By Swaminathan Ramamurthy, General Manager of Robotics Business Division at Omron Asia Pacific.

Fast forward 80 years to today, Bill’s innovation has evolved into a sine qua non of the modern manufacturing landscape. A robot’s ability to relieve humans from monotonous and laborious tasks such as material transport, lifting of heavy objects or assembly line work has helped to alleviate human resource shortages in various industries across the globe. This delegation of menial tasks to robots has also allowed human workers to take on more complex responsibilities in the factory.

Robots have also come a long way since the days of punched paper tapes and single motors. Equipped with sensors that can detect and process the ubiquitous amount of data available today, modern day robots are no more limited to playing mundane support roles. The progress of robotics and other advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), data analytics and Internet of Things (IoT) has instilled a sense of ‘human-free’ proactiveness that has transformed the way we work in the factory.

The Data – 2.5 Quintillion Bytes Of It

According to the World Economic Forum, the world produces 2.5 quintillion bytes of data a day and 90 percent of data today was produced in the past two years.

Naturally, much of this data is generated and collected on the factory floor. The challenge for many factory managers is to make use of the right data to drive efficiency, enhance production and improve on flexibility. The key to this may be with the robots working in the production line itself.

Robots equipped with advanced sensors can gather data from key sources of the production system. Smart adaptive algorithms allow robots to analyse and process data with quick efficiency. These days, advanced analytics and AI software allow robots to arrive at programmed actions based on the intelligence they discover. They can also ‘learn’ to improve on actions and derive the best course of action to take to drive efficiency and productivity.

For example, machines and robots can track a large amount of production variables through advanced analytics. This allows timely control of crucial production factors such as manufacturing accuracy and quality control that are not easily spotted by humans.

Through these sensing capabilities, robots and machines in factories today are empowered to make simple decisions, automatically improve on systems and be self-optimising in a way.

The Brain – Sensing What Is Unnoticeable

Manufacturers are deploying AI technologies and bringing an all-new level of automation to the factory floor. They are accelerating processes and improving flexibility.

Tesla deploys 47 robots in scanning stations to execute precise and efficient quality control of its Model 3 cars. These no-nonsense robots measure 1,900 points on each vehicle to ensure their alignment is no more than 0.15 millimeters outside design specifications.

When a Tesla car leaves the production line for its test drive, human workers at Tesla service centers also keep track of important data such as squeaks and noise that are captured by sound recorders. These faults, usually unnoticeable to the test driver, are linked with the car’s unique Vehicle Number (VIN). This allows problems to be more efficiently diagnosed with root causes able to be traced to the factory line.

For Tesla, the capabilities of these advance technologies are ad infinitum. The amount of vital data that is captured and connected with a car’s VIN can help service centers diagnose problems even when the car is in the customer’s garage.

Sense, Control, Think

The confluence of data, IoT and machines is not limited to processes such as assembly and quality control. Robots can be expected to participate in more crucial activities and take on more proactive roles due to their ability to sense and control production activities. The next step in this 80-year journey would be to harness robots that can think beyond the simple decisions they currently make.

However, instead of thinking for us, these robots will take on partnering roles in factories. Armed with an arsenal of advanced technologies, they will be able to complement their human colleagues with their ability to detect manufacturing failure signs and take steps against risks normally unnoticeable to human beings.

This human-robot interoperability is at the crux of the “4M sensing technology” framework envisioned by Omron’s researchers to provide an idea of the dynamics that will be commonplace in a future factory. This framework encompasses four critical factors of the modern factory – man, machine, material and method. It provides a foundation for humans and machines to work in the same environment.

These four factors are inter-connected through artificial intelligence and an exchange of information and knowledge between man and machine. The skilled human worker imparts valuable knowledge to machines who can reproduce their skills and ultimately become self-reliant. In return, robots and machines detect failure symptoms that can be unnoticeable even by skilled engineers.

This exchange of skills can also be extended to other functions and concerns of an organisation such as safety and human resources. Just as humans periodically inspect machines and robots for wear and tear that may otherwise compromise their ability to work effectively and safely, machines and robots can detect signs of bad health of a worker based on his/her movements and/or health data and immediately warn line managers.

The Future – Endless Possibilities

With the explosion of data, future factories have more information to tap on than ever before. This has increased possibilities, in the way we can leverage on robots. As machines today advance in intelligence, they also gain in value. We are driving towards a future where humans and machines collaborate in factories and build on a new found symbiotic relationship.

As we look back to the early day robot that was powered by a single engine motor, one cannot help but wonder how much more progress will be seen in factories 80 years from now. Will factories be able to run independently without human intervention? Nothing seems impossible at this moment.

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Insights From Omron: Trends In The Singapore Manufacturing Industry

Insights From Omron: Trends In The Singapore Manufacturing Industry

Through this article, Mr. Lieu Yew Fatt, Managing Director of Omron Electronics Singapore and Mr. Swaminathan Vangal-Ramamurthy, General Manager of Robotics Business Division, Omron Asia Pacific examine the future of manufacturing in Singapore and the relationship between local and global trends.

Manufacturing has been a key pillar of the economy in Singapore ever since we progressed to an innovation-intensive economy from a labour-intensive one in the early days of nation building. Now, manufacturing contributes close to 20 percent of our gross domestic product (GDP) and keeps more than 500,000 people employed.

Moving forward, the manufacturing sector here will face increasing external pressures in the coming years. In Southeast Asia, we have Thailand, which ranked well for high quality and low cost in a McKinsey analysis on which ASEAN country is most attractive for manufacturing investments. Singapore, not surprisingly, ranked high in high quality but performed badly in low cost.

Meanwhile, the rise of China as a manufacturing powerhouse in Asia has also brought a different level of competition to the landscape. Foreign direct investment (FDI) has been flowing in to China and this adds competitive pressure to the manufacturers in this region, especially since there are some significant overlaps in manufacturing capabilities between the manufacturers in China and here.

The Shift Towards Innovation And Research

Singapore’s manufacturing sector naturally leans towards advanced manufacturing in view of our knowledge-based economy. Manufacturers here are generally more open to leveraging innovation and technology to improve products and/or processes.

In 2016, the Singapore Government introduced the Research Innovation Enterprise 2020 (RIE2020), a plan that charts the course for harvesting an innovative and competitive economy as we progress towards 2020. As part of this plan, advanced manufacturing was identified as a key pillar among others to drive this forward. RIE2020 also identified four cross-cutting technology areas as essential enablers, which will undergird and support the verticals. These are: Robotics and Automation, Digital Manufacturing, Additive Manufacturing and Advanced Materials.

Additionally, the Government has also committed SGD$19 billion, the biggest allocation since 1995, as investment into innovation, research and driving enterprise growth under the RIE2020 Plan for 2016 to 2020.

Keeping Up With Technology Trends

Government support provides a much-needed boost for manufacturers here. However, manufacturing businesses must ensure that they are maximising cost efficiency and productivity in their operations to remain competitive. The good news is that technology can offer tremendous value in these areas.

There are two major trends to watch in advanced manufacturing:

1.Artificial Intelligence And Machine Controllers

Manufacturers can expect artificial intelligence (AI) to play an increasingly prominent role in manufacturing as factory floors become smarter and more collaborative robots (or ‘cobots’) work alongside humans to enhance productivity.

At OMRON, we recently took an innovative-automation approach. By this, we mean an integrating high-precision, high-speed manufacturing with more intelligent controls and data analysis and combining that with a more interactive and collaborative relationship between robots and people on the manufacturing floor.

For instance, we merged AI, machine learning and facial recognition technologies to develop Omron vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR) technology. This is used in automobile manufacturing to create products that keep drivers safe. VOR technology uses a camera to capture and sense a driver’s eye movements to spot for early-stage drowsiness and determine his/her suitability for driving. This technology can also be applied to the factory floor to keep workers safe as well, such as when they are operating heavy machinery.

Separately, we have added learning capabilities to machine automation controllers by equipping them with machine learning AI algorithm. This allows the controllers to achieve real time integration between programmable logic controller and AI processing functions. The result is that these controllers can manage equipment changes on the factory floor in microseconds as they send collected data to the host IT system while maintaining control performance.

Additionally, these controllers can effectively keep track of equipment and production status when equipped with sensors set to monitor machines and production lines. They can look out for irregularities or unusual activities and built-in AIs can take action to fix issues or activate safety procedures depending on what they are programmed to learn.

2.Industrial Internet Of Things

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) in manufacturing is currently already a primary trend affecting businesses in the industry. It transformed manufacturing in many parts of the world due to its ability to enable the gathering and analysis of data and then applying it in new and novel ways.

However, IIoT goes beyond machines to machine connectivity. It is also a movement that is uniting the people and systems on the factory floor with enterprise-level decision makers. The rise of IIoT platforms have also empowered employees as they now have better access to information. With improved collaboration a focus of these platforms, teams can now work across factory floors, or even remotely across wider geographies.

The mindset is also shifting towards that of consumers connected to the industry through customer interactions and social networks, and informed businesses are constantly adjusting their output and production based on consumer demand.

We readily see this in the automobile industry where manufacturers offer many customisable or optional choices. Now, car buyers are often spoilt for choice on things like exterior and interior colors, seat material and design, in-car stereo and GPS systems, sun roofs and so on. Manufacturers are embracing this connected customers and market-driven environment. To remain competitive, manufacturers have to be connected and nimble and the only way they can be successful is to leverage the power of data and newer technologies like IIoT.

Future-Ready Manufacturing

It will no doubt remain important for manufacturers here to continue to strive for the age-old goals of increasing speed to market, reducing overall costs and maintaining quality control. Nonetheless, they cannot ignore the fact that digitalisation and disruptive technologies are transforming the whole manufacturing landscape, and it is crucial that they take steps to modernise their operations and prepare for the business environment and the market of the future.

Advanced manufacturing methodologies that used to be mere concepts just a few years ago are now finding practical implementations. It is timely for manufacturers here to explore their actual feasibility and practicality as they modernise their own operations. They may also want to better incorporate automation, data analytics, IIoT, robotics and increased technology adoption into their business strategies and operational planning considerations.

To be future-ready, manufacturers will need to plan toward realising a more transparent supply chain that enhances product traceability by taking steps now to adopt newer and more intelligent production methods and processes.

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Interview With Mr. Lieu Yew Fatt, Managing Director Of Omron Electronics Singapore

Interview With Mr. Lieu Yew Fatt, Managing Director of Omron Electronics Singapore

Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News is pleased to conduct an interview with Mr. Lieu Yew Fatt, Managing Director of Omron Electronics Singapore on his views on the future of robotics technologies in Asia and its impact on manufacturing processes and supply chains.

Interview With Mr. Lieu Yew Fatt, Managing Director of Omron Electronics Singapore

1. In your opinion, what are the top three megatrends that are shaping the robotics industry in Asia?

Firstly, robots are becoming increasingly proactive due to intelligent features being incorporated into them today. Robots are no longer limited to menial or laborious duties. Empowered by artificial intelligence, robots can take on higher level tasks due to their ability to ‘learn’ and ‘think’.

Secondly, the use of collaborative robots or “cobots” is set to increase. Robots have yet to really work collaboratively with humans due to safety concerns and inadequate sensory information. However, we are making substantial progress in improving safety and sensing technology, increasing the potential to revolutionise the way humans work with robots in the future.

Lastly, decision makers are becoming increasingly aware of the benefits that their businesses can reap by incorporating robots. As a result, people with skills and expertise in robotics are becoming more highly sought-after.

2. What are the key challenges that prevent manufacturers in Asia from adopting robotics in their manufacturing processes and supply chains?

Manufacturers are still faced with resistance from employees who are not familiar with robotics. Unfortunately, many employees still fear that their jobs are threatened by robotics and automation.

Incorporating robotics into factories and production lines is also seen as a long-term project. Small and medium sized manufacturers, vigilant of their costs and cashflow, may not see investing in robotics as immediately beneficial or justifiable.

Successful implementation of robotics is also typically perceived as requiring major adjustments to work processes or even infrastructure. This can lead to resistance from employees who are unwilling to change or adapt.

3. How do you suggest that the above challenges be solved?

Manufacturers must understand that the implementation of robotics is not about replacing workers. When incorporated successfully in the production line, for example, robotics and automation can alleviate workers from routine and laborious tasks. These workers can move on to perform more value-added tasks in the factory, ultimately enhancing the quality and quantity of output.

The belief that robotics only provides a long-term return on investment may also be incorrect. For example, for some organisations, simple optimisations to existing manufacturing lines have resulted in significant cost savings at comparatively low costs. For instance, Omron has helped one packaging manufacturer increase output speed by 30 percent by using anti-vibration technology. The speed of the existing yoghurt packaging line was limited due to the need to stop the product from sloshing during movements. Anti-vibration technology removed this bottleneck and allowed them to perform at a much higher standard.

Training employees to pick up robotics skills and the ability to work with robots is also effective in driving adoption. Furthermore, robotics technology has evolved to the point where major infrastructure changes are no longer required in order to achieve the same goals. To explore what is possible, the industry has evolved to allow SMEs and businesses to experiment with these technologies rather than make an upfront commitment. The Omron Automation Centre, for example, provides solutions and training to companies who are looking to explore advanced technology solutions.

4. In 5 to 10 years’ time, how do you think the robotics industry and its relationship with manufacturing and supply chains will evolve in Asia?

In five to 10 years’ time, robotics and automation will be a sine qua non for the manufacturing industry. Robots are expected to take on more higher-level roles as technology continues to evolve, providing relief to manufacturers today who are typically under increasing pressure due to fast-evolving consumer trends, shorter product life cycles, increased competition and labour shortages.

On top of robotics, advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence, data analytics and the Internet of Things (IoT) will continue to play key roles in production lines and instil a sense of human-free proactiveness that will continue to transform the way we work in factories.

Smart adaptive algorithms are equipping robots with the ability to analyse and process data with quick efficiency. Advanced analytics and AI software will also allow robots to arrive at programmed actions based on the intelligence they discover.

It will also no longer be a surprise that machines and robots can track a large amount of production variables through advanced analytics. This allows timely control of crucial production factors such as manufacturing accuracy and quality control that are not easily spotted by humans.

 5. What are your thoughts on the Singapore International Robo Expo? Do you think the industry is ready for an event like this?

As a country that is largely thriving on a knowledge-based economy and with a strong focus on building itself into a leading smart nation, Singapore is an ideal location for events like the Singapore International Robo Expo.

The Singapore government has been a keen advocate of industries adopting robotics and other advanced technologies to digitalise operations. For instance, the government recently launched the Singapore Smart Industry Readiness Index, a whitepaper that illustrates the government’s efforts to capitalise on the Industry 4.0 trend and transform the manufacturing landscape in Singapore

This event also provides an opportunity for the different stakeholders in the robotics industry to gather and exchange ideas. For example, Omron’s booth featured its Autonomous Intelligent Vehicle that featured a mobile robot and a collaborative robot arm tightly integrated together as a “mobile robotic handler”. These demonstrations help mature Singapore’s conversations and approaches on how certain functions, such as transportation and the loading of work materials in this case, can be fully automated.

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