- Company description: Bosch Rexroth AG, Lohr a. Main (Germany)
As one of the world’s leading suppliers of drive and control technologies, Bosch Rexroth ensures efficient, powerful and safe movement in machines and systems of any size. The company bundles global application experience in the market segments of Mobile Applications, Machinery Applications and Engineering, and Factory Automation. With its intelligent components, customized system solutions and services, Bosch Rexroth is creating the necessary environment for fully connected applications. Bosch Rexroth offers its customers hydraulics, electric drive and control technology, gear technology and linear motion and assembly technology, including software and interfaces to the Internet of Things. With locations in over 80 countries, roughly 31,000 associates generated sales revenue of roughly 6.2 billion euros in 2019.
Application-ready: ctrlX AUTOMATION platform in use
The Z axis of the handling systemdips into the machine. The commissioner checks the exact position and, after three test runs, switches on active vibration avoidance in the drive. The result is incredible: the axis was already quite quick but now it can be positioned much more quickly thanks to the reduced vibration. At the click of a mouse, the handling system equipped with ctrlX AUTOMATION eliminates unproductive idle times in the serial machine.
In addition to this prototype application, a number of key customers carried out ctrlX AUTOMATION projects in Europe, the USA and Asia last year. Applications range from plastics and textile machines to food and luxury goods processing with packaging and even sheet metal handling. However, the focus here is on robotics and handling. Customers use the new ctrlX DRIVE generation of drives and the ctrlX CORE control system in special and serial machines.
Sufficient performance for additional software
The biggest application is a handling system for stacking and transporting large components over long distances. For a new generation of robots, manufacturers require a control system, which is integrated into the drive and offers unlimited performance and openness towards higher-level IT systems. In addition to the actual motion with gantry function, the extensive OPC UA server which is supporting the communication to the end users’ IT systems will also run on it.
Energy efficiency too plays an important role. After all, end users are increasingly looking to reduce their CO2 footprint. The drives run alongside the portal systems. The lighter the hardware is, the less drive power is required and the less energy is consumed by the system. The ctrlX DRIVE drives are up to 50 percent more compact and thus weigh nearly 35% less. The modular design of the drive system and the common DC-bus with regenerative supply unit ensure maximum energy efficiency. This reduces operating costs and the CO2 footprint becomes much smaller.
The ctrlX CORE control system which is integrated into the drive requires no additional space. It coordinates the drives needed for the portal system via the ctrlX MOTION app. The control system also offers sufficient performance for the warehouse software. The OPC UA web server which is already integrated makes connection to the end users’ IT systems easier and reduces the engineering outlay considerably.
For the manufacturer, the openness of the automation system is an essential requirement. He can load new interfaces to IT systems or to the IoT onto the control systems via app at any time – even if the systems have already been installed. On the field level, the EtherCAT ecosystem offers a wide range of peripheral devices.
Future-proof and open
With the new automation platform ctrlX AUTOMATION, users can make significant savings in installation space, weight and energy. The control system’s long life cycle with a serviceability of at least 25 years is their guarantee of future viability. This also applies to communication with the field level via EtherCAT and with IT systems via OPC UA.
Faster setup with cost-effective mechatronic package
Bosch Rexroth’s new Smart Function Kit is designed to meet future industrial requirements and provides a mechatronic kit as a perfect basis for system integrators or end-users with process-know-how. It is prepared for an extremely wide range of standardized pressing and joining applications. The modular kit, consisting of mechanical components, electrical components and software, simplifies product selection and configuration as well as commissioning. The Smart Function Kit can be connected via open interfaces and conveniently monitored during operation device independent, for example via tablet. This maximizes transparency, reduces downtime and increases productivity.
The easy, fast and attractively priced kit has been specially designed for pressing and joining functions in the force range of 2 to 30 kN. The modular system consists of hardware and software components: electromechanical cylinder and power sensor, servo motor, drive controller, industrial PC and browserbased HMI software based on HTML 5.
There are numerous different potential areas of application for the new Smart Function Kit – it is ideal for applications where simplicity, fast commissioning and an attractive price are all important criteria. These include press-fitting bearings in housings, crimping cables and hoses as well as inserting, for example, integration of magnets in lamination stacks. Furthermore, the kit is cost-effective at forming processes, such as bending, embossing and deep drawing in the plastics industry. The system is also suitable for measurement and test procedures as well as test stands across an extremely wide range of sectors. The electromechanical kit can either be used as a standalone solution or integrated into higher level systems via field bus. As such, Bosch Rexroth is setting new standards for easy pressing and joining applications.
Fast product selection and commissioning
After the right Smart Function Kit size has been chosen with the selection and sizing tool LinSelect, the final configuration process is carried out in the online configurator. CAD files can then be downloaded and the desired configuration can be ordered via the Rexroth e-shop. All components are delivered as one complete package.
The true highlights of the Smart Function Kit are the intuitive commissioning and process configuration, meaning programming knowledge is not required. The preinstalled operating software including commissioning wizard enables autoparameterization of the servo drive and fast commissioning. This saves up to 95% engineering time and can significantly reduce time-to-market.
Intuitive software – no programming knowledge required
Even during operation, the software is intuitive and can be used without programming knowledge. Thanks to the modern Web HMI, process configuration is realized via drag & drop. The easy graphical creation of evaluation and analysis elements is practically self-explanatory. During operations, the Smart Function Kit can then be conveniently monitored via a tablet. The visualization of status information and process results as well as the live display of the force-displacement curve with subsequent analysis, storage and data export options ensure maximum transparency. All current system parameters are always available at a glance: whether status report, quality statistics or error messages. They appear as plain text in the software and make error handling a doddle. Other predictive maintenance functions and maintenance support are currently in the pipeline. Thanks to all these functions, the Smart Function Kit reduces downtime and maximizes productivity.
“As pioneers in the digitalization of Linear Motion Technology, we are, with the Smart Function Kit, now also launching a special solution for less complex pressing and joining processes. The new product is based on proven Rexroth technology as well as innovative products and solutions throughout the entire process chain and combines our complete know-how,” says Dr. Ulf Lehmann, Head of the Linear Motion Technology at Bosch Rexroth AG.
Connected Hydraulics: Connectivity with added value
Dr. Steffen Haack, Head of the Business Unit Industrial Hydraulics, Bosch Rexroth AG
For machine manufacturers and users, productivity is the measure of all things. Connected hydraulics makes an important contribution to productivity because it combines the physical advantages of fluid technology over the entire life cycle with the almost infinite possibilities of digitalization and connectivity in the Internet of Things.
Hydraulics “to go”
The trend is clear: Fewer and fewer engineers want to design hydraulic systems completely in-house, but rather map functions by means of ready-to-install plug-and-produce modules. With CytroBox, the new generation of power units, variable-speed pump drives or ready-to-install linear drives with decentralized fluid circuits, Rexroth already offers a broad portfolio that is expanded continuously. Hydraulics has never been simpler: select, order, commission. Online tools for the selection and configuration of hydraulic components and complex assemblies are increasingly being integrated into the digitalized workflows of engineers. Shifting previously hydromechanically executed movements to the software also allows them to solve various movement tasks with identical hardware.
Quick installation with software assistants
The commissioning process is also shaped by software tools. Valves with digital intelligence automatically identify themselves via a Multi-Ethernet interface or IO-Link. Software assistants and wizards for initial parameterization logically guide even technicians with little experience through commissioning and suggest suitable control parameters. This way, incorrect entries are avoided and commissioning is accelerated considerably. In a next step, control valves make the open Bluetooth interface available. Apps allow operators to access components directly with their smartphone, change parameters and adapt the hydraulics to suit their particular task.
Maximum productivity through top performance
This adaptation to the respective task and the continuous increase in performance of hydraulic components form the basis for higher productivity. The use of new manufacturing processes such as 3D printing opens up additional potential. At the same time, hydraulics has made enormous progress in terms of energy efficiency. With fuel savings of up to 80 percent, it actively contributes to achieving the CO2 targets of manufacturing companies.
In daily operation, connected hydraulic products and systems continuously record operating data. These can be displayed on the device (e.g. for proportional valves) with a simple life expectancy (green-yellow-red logic). The operating data can also be processed decentrally and the results sent to higher-level systems. From these results, analysis algorithms derive considerable optimization potential for process improvements and higher productivity.
Minimize downtime: Prevent machine breakdown with predictive analytics
This data is also the key to minimal downtime, because algorithms based on decades of application experience detect wear before it leads to failure. For example, the software solution CytroConnect processes the operating data of hydraulic units in a decentralized manner. Maintenance staff can call up this information via smartphone regardless of their location – inside or outside the factory. They can resolve many error messages via online access or trigger an automatic spare parts order.
The digital future of hydraulics has begun
The digitalization of connected hydraulics is continuing to gain speed. In the coming months, new digitized hydraulic components, modules and systems will go into series production and expand the range of applications. Connected Hydraulics is a future-proof technology with added value for machine manufacturers and end users.