When the new Automation1 control platform was launched in 2019, Aerotech heralded a new era in motion controls. The latest release 2.4 brings a wealth of new feartures.
“We have our ear close to our customers and are constantly developing our Automation1 control platform so that every positioning system can be precisely controlled via it, whether as an individual system or in the automation process of a plant,” emphasises Simon Smith, European director at Aerotech. With Release 2.4, the API support of Python API has passed the beta test phase and is now fully available for all users. This means that all Python help files are also available, so that they can be accessed at any time in case of questions about the Python interface.
But not only the interfaces have been thought of, the Aerotech programmers have also further optimised the software. Among other things, the machine setup, the data visualisation and the Homing help module have been improved. In addition, the uploading and downloading of MCD files (with MiniCAD Design Files) has been simplified.
There have also been some changes in the drive hardware. This includes gantry support for XI4 and iXI4 drives, also with absolute encoders, as well as support for device catalogue and machine setup for linear gantries. Also new is the availability of 3-axis PSO on the GL4 with IFOV (Infinite Field of View). IFOV is a solution for synchronising linear or rotary servo axes with laser scanners, improving throughput, eliminating stitching and part quality issues caused by overlapping and mismatched laser processing. In the course of this, autofocusing has been improved again and BiSS absolute encoders are now also supported even more optimally, which further increases positioning accuracy.
Finally, the MachineApps have also been further optimised. Users can now access a module container and thus place several modules in a separate area of a MachineApp. In addition, notifications and animations can be executed directly in the MachineApp through indicators.
The new Automation1 release 2.4 is now also the standard version for the Motion Development Kit (MDK) and Intelligent Software-based Machine Control (iSMC). iSMC closely links precision motion with process control. According to Aerotech, iSMC supports PC-based or drive-based hardware platforms and offers users flexibility in setting up their motion control solutions.
Whether simple motion or complete machine control, iSMC provides improved automation when integrating positioning systems and increases throughput. As iSCM is integrated into the user-friendly developer kit, positioning solutions can be configured and developed quite quickly, and control devices can be set up with it.
For users who were used to using fixtures (fixture offsets) in the old A3200 control software, these are now also available as a beta function ‘work offsets’. Also as a beta feature, distributed clocks synchronisation (DC) is supported in EtherCAT, so that all integrated secondary controllers use the same reference time.
Preparations are also underway to make the manuals for the drive hardware available web-based in the future. “We always keep an eye on where valuable resources can be saved. With thousands of printed manuals so far, this means a sustainable reduction in paper,” says Smith.
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