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Robotics Industry News

Simple, Configurable, Versatile, Future-proof: Industry 4.0 Grippers with IO-Link

Zimmer Group US, Inc.

Starting in mid-2016, the gripper trailblazer is launching the GEH6000IL gripper series, a new electric long stroke gripper soon to be followed by the GED5000IL and GEP5000IL series - 3 jaw and 2 jaw parallel electric grippers. Like many of the new handling components from Zimmer Group, these grippers will be equipped with the future-proof communication system driven by IO-Link and with the ACM (previously known from the GEP/GED5000), the Advanced Control Module from Zimmer Group. This in-house development from Zimmer offers a highly flexible, future-ready and market-tested control platform with advantages for the customer. Complicated project configuration and commissioning is finally a thing of the past thanks to the Advanced Control Module. The gripper can be connected to the control system/power supply of the machine using a single cable and offers the user pre-programmed driving profiles, which can be adjusted with just a few mouse clicks to the individual requirements of the gripping application. As an Industry 4.0 component, the GEH6000IL also opens up new possibilities, such as extended diagnostics and predictive maintenance. These features improve the reliability of the entire automation application. Thanks to the capability of the gripper to communicate via IO-Link, the user has the further option of configuring the gripper and running condition monitoring using a tablet or smartphone via the Zimmer app.

The consistent orientation of the product portfolio towards the future requirements of the market, as described with the term Industry 4.0, is a principle that Zimmer Group has been practicing persistently and successfully for several years. This practice includes the in-house development of a control platform for system components and the development of one of the first human-machine collaboration grippers in the world. This dedication is reflected by the fact that Zimmer Group has been honored with international industry awards in recent years.

The new series, with a gripping force that can be configured between 70 N and 1900 N, offers all the advantages of the predecessor model, including the enormous gripping force in relation to its size, the robust design and the mechanical self limitation. Beyond these features, however, the series also offers important new advantages that make it completely future-proof. The GEH6000IL is now equipped with an integrated control system and therefore no longer requires an external controller, eliminating expensive special cables between the controller and the gripper. In addition, it is equipped with a brushless, electronically commutated DC motor, which is virtually unaffected by wear and thus offers excellent operating safety. Owing to a modified construction of the gripping technology, the full gripping force is available at all times in force mode, and even during fast movements, there is no jamming in the end positions.

An integrated absolute position measuring system means that a reference run is no longer required upon system start-up or after an emergency stop. It also means that the maximum gripping force is now achieved after a travel movement of less than 1 mm.

Furthermore, external sensors are no longer necessary to identify positions or workpieces.

Communication system of the future: Activation via IO-Link
IO-Link offers outstanding advantages in that it can be used to connect sensors and actuators to any higher-level control system, independently of the previously selected architecture of the fieldbus and control system. Not only are control signals sent to the sensors and actuators, but data is also transmitted in the other direction from the sensor/actuator level to the control system. This enables extensive control and diagnostics for the entire system with cycle times lasting only a few milliseconds.

For the grippers of the GEH6000IL series, this means that it is possible to adjust the gripping force or the gripping speed using the central control system.

Current and future demands for a flexible and compact gripper that is easy to integrate are fulfilled. The result is that the GEH6000IL series is "Ready for Industry 4.0" today.

IO-Link is very easy to use. The device setting data can either be entered manually or taught via pairing. It can be saved centrally and transfered very easily to devices with the same function. This leads to substantial time savings during commissioning. Actuators and sensors can be exchanged during ongoing operation and initialized if necessary. The process ensures maximum machine availability, since the setting data can be transmitted quickly and accurately to the new devices. IO-Link also offers numerous options for extended diagnostics and predictive maintenance.

A single IO-Link master can have one or multiple IO-Link ports, each of which establish point-to-point communication with the device. The IO-Link masters are participants in a higher-level fieldbus system and, similarly to a gateway, serve as communication interfaces between any fieldbus and IO-Link. This simple wiring allows for a quick and error-free assembly.

As a result, commissioning times are as short as possible and downtimes are reduced, leading to increased machine availability.

Outstanding key values
The GEH6000IL gripper series is available in size 60 with an adjustable gripping force from 70 N to 1250 N and a positionable stroke of up to 60 mm for each gripper jaw. The product range for size 61 features an adjustable gripping force from 100 N to 1900 N and two positionable hub variations with up to 40 mm / 80 mm per gripper jaw.

The GEH6000IL gripper series proves advantageous thanks to its high power density. For example, the GEH6060IL weighs only 790g and offers a gripping force of up to 1250 N. All this in combination with the integrated controller, the user-friendliness of the activation via IO-Link and the high movement speed of up to 60 mm/s make this series a price/performance winner in its class.  

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