In response to customer demand for a reliable communication system, which could limit the number of cables needed to communicate between multiple valve banks/field sensors and a PLC, a wireless communication module was the only logical answer. SMC has developed such a system, the EX600-W, which has addressed all the necessary safety and interference concerns.
The module has been registered with ICASA for use on the 2,4 GHz frequency band. This falls well out of the range of any frequency disturbances generated in an industrial environment, thus negating all possible interference from welding machinery, motor drivers or electro-magnetic heating systems. Furthermore, the base and remote modules use a unique frequency hopping algorithm to provide stable communication and prevent disruptions from other electronic devices. The system is designed to work within a 10 m radius using an encrypted protocol to prevent unauthorised network access.
The EX600-W base unit makes use of Ethernet/IP or Profinet protocols and is capable of pairing with up to 127 remote modules. The base unit can handle up to a combined total of 1280 inputs and 1280 outputs. These can be distributed throughout the wireless network as required, giving complete control of the system layout.
Numerous automotive industry customers have tested the EX600-W on their tool changers and spot welders. In over two years of test operation zero failures were reported.
In another application, a leading developer of solutions for automotive, aerospace and the food, beverage and pharmaceutical industries, designed a compact three-station pick and place robot cell. Due to the elimination of field-based wiring, simple block diagrams replaced complex wiring plans. The elimination of communication wiring enabled the controls engineer to significantly reduce the setup and integration times, reducing the delivery time of the cell from six months to four weeks.
In a third case, SMC UK and ATG partnered with MAKE UK to design and build a state-of-the-art training facility for engineering apprentices. The 10 m radius of the EX600-W offered the perfect range for wirelessly integrating all training stations in the cell, with one base unit connected to the PLC via Ethernet/IP. This has significantly reduced the cabling costs and installation time of the various stations. Furthermore, thanks to the built-in web function of the EX600-W, all stations can be remotely monitored away from the physical infrastructure.
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