Not that long ago, Ethernet wasn’t common on PLCs and other industrial devices. Even 10 years ago you often had to buy a separate option card to add Ethernet to your PLC. But now it has become ubiquitous and with it has come a plethora of terminology and misunderstanding.
I often hear customers ask, “does this PLC support Ethernet communications?” Unfortunately, the answer for most current PLCs is yes. Why is this an unfortunate answer? The problem is Ethernet is not a communications sta
Did you know that Mitsubishi FR-A800, FR-E800 and FR-F800 series Variable Frequency Drives (VFDs) include built-in Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) functionality?
That’s right, the VFDs/Inverters that you are used to using to drive your 3-phase motors have a built-in PLC that can be enabled to do logic control without an external device. Not only this, but you can add extra input and outputs via add-on cards to expand the functionality.
Let’s look at a simple example – the E800 VFD
Maybe you are new to Ethernet Networking or maybe you’ve been doing it for a while and you know how to get it to work but fumble most of the time before getting it right. Either way, this blog is intended to give a basic understanding of Ethernet networking. We won’t get into more advanced topics like VLANs and DMZ, and if you haven’t even heard those terms, that’s fine.
This is meant as a beginners guide. So let’s get to it.
Firstly, let’s talk about your address. No, I don’t me
Programmable controllers have come a long way in the past few years. And Mitsubishi's iQ-F line of PLCs is no exception - or maybe it is?
PLC programmers are used to thinking about using large rack mount systems when they need a lot of processing power, and while that still remains true, the lower end has grown so much that applications we used to have to reach for larger and more expensive PLCs to accomplish can now be done in much lower cost units. For example Mitsubishi's FX5 (iQ-F) se
Almost every week I support someone using Modbus communications in one form or another. And when I say one form or another, I truly mean that. Modbus is not a single protocol but a family of protocols. There’s Modbus ASCII, Modbus RTU, and Modbus TCP and maybe even more, but those are the ones I am most familiar with.
I cannot say that I am a guru on Modbus, but I can certainly attest to dozens, if not hundreds of hours setting up and using this protocol. Mostly I have used it in two fo
As yet another example of the amazing flexibility and power that Mitsubishi’s iQ-F Controller, Mitsubishi has now added Sequential Function Chart programming to the FX5U and FX5UC compact, cost effective PLCs.
If you have been a PLC programmer for a long time you have probably programmed in ladder logic, and most likely Function Block Diagram languages (FBD) which has also been called Structured Ladder programming. You might have even used Structured text (ST) programming. But have you ever
Advanced warning, this may not be the most professional or business-centric blog post for Gibson Engineering's Support Community. I wanted to share an automation application and the associated story that may entertain some of our readers.
Earlier in the year, as we went into coronavirus quarantine and our kids were sent home from school, my wife decided it was a great time to get chickens. I've shrugged off this idea for a couple of years now. However, I came home one night to three excit
Color Inspection comes to the ViDi Platform
Cognex has announced the release of Color cameras for use with its ViDi Deep Learning platform. If you haven't been keeping up with Deep Learning in Machine Vision, this is huge news. Not very long ago Deep Learning and neural networks were limited to lab use or very large complex systems. But now you can train complex applications and deploy them on Smart Cameras on your product line to perform inspections that were never possible with traditi
Wow, October got away from me. I don't know about you, but things are still moving fast and completing new projects is taking longer than usual right now. But that's where having options and other resources can be a great help.
Did you know that Gibson Engineering has been running a Panelshop for decades? That's right, we have a group dedicated to custom panel work. We do everything from kitting, to small assembly work, to custom electrical enclosure, to large multi-bay control enclosur
Expiration dates, lot codes, and other important texts are on all our consumer products. Federal regulations require that food and medical related items have this important information and that it is easily read by the end customer. Consequently, manufacturers are responsible for making sure these texts are present and accurate. Traditional optical character recognition (OCR) tool sets use a combination of image filters and pattern matching to determine which character is being read. A large
In the 2D industrial imaging realm, I am going to split the cameras into 2 groups: Monochrome and Color cameras. They both have different applications and we usually see monochrome cameras used in the automation industry and machine vision applications.
Take a look at the bottom infographic for how to turn light into a digital file. Industrial cameras are digital cameras so this applies to them too.
Light hits the subject (no light, no image), a lens collects the light then gets r
Mitsubishi CC-Link networks have grown substantially over the past decade and it’s no wonder that there is some confusion on the various versions. This blog is to give a quick overview and hopefully clear up some of what can be rather muddy waters.
Let’s start with what CC-Link is: CC-Link is a FAMILY of protocols created and maintained by the CC-Link Partner Association (https://www.cc-link.org/)
Very much like other industrial communication protocols, it is used to communicate betw
I am going to be honest here, I didn’t think I needed a 7th axis on a robot. I thought it was a marketing gimmick or an additional linkage to make the kinematics equations harder… I was wrong.
Disclaimer: There are two different options to get 7 different axis; 1) a 7 axis robot, 2) an additional 7th axis for a 6 axis robot. Two different things. I am going to be talking about 7 axis robots in this post rather than adding an elevator or a slide to a 6 axis arm.
Save time on the d
With the introduction of cobots (collaborative robots) into the manufacturing environment, many people struggle to understand the limits of cobots and rush to assume that every new application they see is a good fit for a cobot. There are several factors to look at when deciding between a cobot, a traditional robot, or a traditional robot with integrated safety components for an application.
Amount of human interaction
Proximity of human traffic
Process positioning toleranc
For most of us in the industrial automation field, seeing a vision solution on a machine is commonplace. Some of us have specified them, some of us have programmed them, and some of us only know, “that’s the vision system over there.” With the latter being the most common, it becomes difficult for some to decide between the types of vision solutions. There are typically two types of self-contained (no separate controllers required) options: vision sensors and vision systems. There is a third
Following on the heels of my blog about Ethernet Protocols, I think it’s worth discussing System Architecture and Equipment Requirements. Over the past several years I’ve been on what I consider the wrong end of system architecture gone wrong and had to help people work their way out of a tough spot on a more than one occasion. And the reason that the architecture has gone wrong is usually the same: either lack of equipment requirements or poorly written equipment requirements.
So what do
There is always debate about when Mitsubishi’s new servo amplifiers such as MR-J4 and MR-JE CC-Link IE Field Basic should be used? To understand this you need to step back and understand what functionality they bring to the wealth of product offering Mitsubishi has in their toolbox. The biggest advantage is that there is no need for extra motion control modules. It is based on CC-link IE Field protocol which in a full functionality mode is a Gigabit based deterministic protocol over Ethernet. Ho
If you don’t have the right end of arm tooling for your application, it might not matter how good of a robot you pick. Robots and the end of arm tooling go hand in hand together.
(Please read my other blog “5 Major Factors to Consider When Choosing a Robot” to get a better idea on how to choose a robot)
Case 1: Let’s pick an application for a vacuum gripper, a bottle pack out machine. The bottles have flat caps and are fairly easy to get a seal with almost any vacuum cups that are the
There are 5 major factors that I think about when I am specifying a robot for an application; reach, payload, speed, application type/versatility and lastly, cost.
Reach is one of the most important factors to getting the right size robot for your application. Some applications are as easy as just a simple pick and place and you can measure from the pick position to the place position and verify what kind of a reach you need from your robot.
However, sometimes you n
I've been supporting the implementation of a Kassow KR1410 collaborative robot for a pack out application, I wanted to provide some tips on integrating a collaborative robot based on my experiences.
Fully understand the system requirements
I cannot emphasize how important it is to understand the system requirements, or if there is a machine that already does a similar job it is very important to study that machine and fully understand the process. After I’m confident in the re
Let’s say you are trying to implement a pick and place application with your robot. Industrial robots are amazing in terms of going to the place they were told to go. But what if that place we told them to go changes constantly and we don’t know where the part is going to be next time around. That’s when we use machine vision’s help to guide our robot to the right pick location.
The general idea is that a vision system needs to be looking at the potential pick locations, and tell the