Robots are made for packaging tasks like picking, transferring, and loading. But one major impediment to widespread integration is the lack of in-house robotics experts at most companies, explains Tim DeRosett, director of strategic initiatives at Yaskawa America, Motoman Robotics Div., based in Miamisburg, Ohio. His company has introduced a robot gateway that simplifies the programming and control of multiple robots through a PLC.
The MLX100 Robot Gateway lets users control and program Motoman robots entirely within the Rockwell Automation ControlLogix platform, eliminating the need for an additional controller or language for robotic application development.
MLX100 reportedly offers a seamless PLC and robot integration as robots are programmed through the same PLC ladder logic code that is widely used for controlling peripheral equipment such as filling machines, packaging machines, and conveyors. This modular, unified control architecture promotes faster robotic application development in a familiar and maintenance-friendly environment, DeRosett explains.
“The added functionality of controlling multiple robots with a single MLX100 not only simplifies the adoption of robots for the consumer packaging industry, but it also enables developing more complex multi-robot applications with ease,”  says Shishir Rege, product marketing manager. “Using PAC/PLC language, the MLX100 allows users to program, deploy, and support robotic system solutions utilizing their existing in-house expertise."
Rege adds, “We are excited about our continual MLX100 developments as it eases robotic integration upstream for primary and secondary packaging applications. It leverages the strength of the Rockwell Programmable Automation Controller (PAC) for logic and control, along with Yaskawa’s advanced kinematics and robot manipulators.”
A multitude of applications are possible on the MLX100 platform, including those requiring vision guidance and line tracking: assembly, part transfer, picking, sorting, kitting, case packing, palletizing, and depalletizing. Select Motoman robots (4-7 axis; 5-300 kg payload) are available with the MLX100 Robot Gateway. Any combination of the available models can be used for dual-robot applications. http://www.motoman.com