Valves, Actuators & Pump Control

Wireless communication and control of electro-pneumatic manifolds and IO

May 2022 Valves, Actuators & Pump Control

Pneumatic solenoid valves, for many decades, were controlled through discrete wiring, with each solenoid individually wired and connected to a common cable, such as a 25-pin D-sub connector. Technology progressed to fieldbus for quicker installation times, reduced wiring errors and importantly, diagnostic feedback capabilities. Thesefieldbus solutions have increased system availability and reliability at a massively reduced installation and maintenance cost.

SMC analysed the control of manifolds-in-motion, where the physical removal of communications cables is desirable. Applications include manifolds mounted on robot gripper assemblies or rotating tables. Wireless communication and control of electro-pneumatic manifolds and IO Slip rings are commonly used to supply 24 V DC control voltages to devices in motion, but fieldbus communication via slip rings is problematic and unreliable.

SMC solved this problem with our EX600-W wireless modules. The system uses two modules: a base unit where your standard hardwired fieldbus network connects and a remote module that is placed on the moving part of the machine. Communication between the modules is wireless via the 2,4 GHz ISM frequency band – unaffected by everyday industrial noise such as magnetic fields generated by welding machines or electric motors. Physical damage to the network cable or poor connections are no longer a threat since the cable-in-motion has been eliminated. EX600-W is highly suitable for use with collaborative robotics for improved machine safety and quick connection of tool changers on robotic arms. The base and remote stations make use of SMC’s unique encrypted communications protocol, preventing unauthorised third-party access to keep machines and data secure. Contact our team for a practical demonstration or modules for your team to try out in your own application.


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