In a recent video made in partnership with the CC-Link Partner Association (CLPA), Festo explains how they take inspiration from nature to offer innovations in automation. A specific example of a robot dragonfly that soars and hovers just like the real thing has been inspiring engineers visiting exhibitions around Europe.
The greater aim is to encourage designers to think about how to use automation to create solutions to manufacturing and process challenges, and then to offer enabling technologies and techniques so that ideas can be realised.
One of the key enabling technologies that Festo has adopted is CC-Link, a high-speed, high-performance open industrial network technology that enables devices from numerous manufacturers to communicate, resulting in a fast, deterministic control system. CC-Link is among the most commonly used open networks around the world, so many engineers are already familiar with it.
As well as the dragonfly, Festo has many other equally impressive models, such as birds, fish and a kangaroo that use principles from nature to provide inspiration for technical applications and industrial practice. More practical demonstrations include a wave surface, which changes shape to sort rolling items, and a hand or intelligent manipulator that can teach itself to manipulate an object it is holding, to a specified orientation.
The need for fast, reliable data handling in such applications is paramount, and CC-Link often proves to be the protocol of choice. There are more than 1300 control products compatible with CC-Link including PLCs, robots, servos, drives, valve manifolds, digital and analogue I/O modules, temperature controllers, mass flow controllers, and many others.
Festo includes a CC-Link interface with its CPX Automation Platform, which is a totally modular valve terminal system for controlling pneumatically and electrically driven automation systems. Other modules available for the CPX include a motion controller, servo-pneumatics, pressure sensor, standard I/O and safety cut-outs.
Like CC-Link, Festo sees the CPX as an enabling technology that helps make realising ambitious automation projects as straightforward and "˜designer-friendly' as possible.