Programming Robots with PLCs

In today’s rapidly changing world of automation, it seems as though every year there is a new way to program or some new wrinkle in every manufacturer’s PLC or Machine Controller lineup. To keep up, this usually requires a software upgrade and some more training. In response to this, most integrators and OEM machine builders will lock onto one company and hold on for dear life.

They do this to stay ahead in the ever changing and increasingly complex world of PLC and machine controllers that continue to add more and more features to their software lineup. It can be dizzying.

Use of Robots Is On The Rise

With this being said, Robotics have continued their slow but steady march of gaining market share in the workplace. It is said by the International Federation of Robotics (IFR), that by 2019, more than 1.4 million new industrial robots will be installed in factories around the world. It is also said that the US will see an average annual growth of 5 to 10 percent annual growth of robot sales from 2016 to 2019. This represents a major expansion in the installed base of robots.

Many companies cringe at the thought of having to learn a new motion control system and a new manufacturer’s software, which will have to be integrated into their overall machine architecture. The challenge seen by many companies is how does a customer share our machine information, motion control, and safety with a third-party robot that the customer knows nothing about?

PLC Control

However, with Omron Adept Robotics, the need to learn another language has been alleviated. All of their robots have the ability to be controlled with a PLC with their ePLC connect technology. With ePLC, they have provided all of the functionality and tools necessary to control the robot with 3 of the major PLC brands:

  • Siemens
    • S7 series
  • Allen Bradley
    • ControlLogix
    • CompactLogix
  • Omron
    • Any Sysmac Studio PLC
      • NJ Series
      • NX Series

What is ePLC?

ePLC is a standard IEC61131 programming approach to programming the Omron Adept Robot through the PLC of the customer’s choice. ePLC provides a platform to do many simple robot motion tasks.

Jobs Suited for ePLC

  • Machine load/unload
  • Pick-and-Place
  • Palletizing/Depalletizing
  • Screwdriving
  • Assembly

Supported Features

The ePLC also supports many complex robot features:

  • Multiple robots running on one PLC
  • Stop-on-Digital input
  • MCP programming
  • Latched function
  • Brake function
  • State function
  • Align function
  • Tool offsets
  • Pallet relative motions
  • Arc/Circle motions
  • AdeptSight 3 compatibility

With ePLC, some of the more complicated tasks can all be performed from your PLC software of choice using the User Data Type (UDT) provided by Omron Adept to control the motion tasks as well as status functions as seen above. These functions can be utilized in the same format as the PLC-open motion control format.

Why use ePLC?

What are the benefits of using a PLC controlled robot at a largely automated customer? It provides a standard IEC 61131 standard approach to programming the robot.

  • Standard programming throughout each work cell, whether it is standard linear motion or a third-party Omron Adept robot.
  • PLC programming resources (plant already has trained employees in place).
  • The scarcity of experienced robot programmers.
    • It can alleviate the need for a third party contracted robot programmer.
  • Keeps the same machine specification throughout the plant.

Contact Cross Company

Brad Czecholinski is a mechanical motion control Applications Specialist with Cross Company Motion Solutions and has a Mechanical Engineering degree from the University of Tennessee.

Topics