TIME AND MONEY The EX600-W wireless valve bank module is designed to reduce downtime and costs
The EX600-W wireless valve bank module from industrial automation technology company SMC is officially available in the South African market, says SMC senior technical sales engineer Wade Holland.
The product has been available in Europe and Asia since early last year, but still needed to conform with the standards stipulated by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa.
As of July this year, SMC has been registered to use the 2.4 GHz frequency band and provide wireless solutions.
The wireless valve bank module, which is manufactured in Japan and assembled locally along with various valve slices and input/output modules to make an application-specific valve bank, was developed in response to a global need to remove the communications cable from customers’ robotic welding arms.
“The rapid movement of the robot would result in the core wires of the communications cable rubbing against each other and eventually failing, resulting in significant downtime. The wireless module prototype was developed and tested on a customer’s production line for two years, with no recorded failures,” explains Holland.
The EX600-W wireless module is also designed to reduce costs.
It will save money in the long term, whether it be through reduced costs in cabling, installation or downtime caused by cable failure, declares Holland.
The wireless system further provides a faster startup time than the traditional wired system, allowing for increased production on assembly lines when tooling change-over is required.
The EX600-W wireless module operates on the 2.4 GHz frequency band, which is not affected by any industrial noise. It also uses a unique frequency hopping algorithm that can maintain a connection between the base and remote modules even if there is digital noise on the 2.4 GHz spectrum.
“Therefore, the wireless module can operate effectively in welding and magnetic motor environments, as well as digitally noisy environments. The base and remote units use a unique encrypted SMC protocol that can prevent data interception by third parties, consequently keeping a customer’s machines and data safe,” states Holland.
SMC has already received much interest in the wireless valve bank from various South African customers in the robot automation industries, besides others.
Holland says car manufacturers and the robot automation sector are showing the greatest demand for the module, owing to its long-term cost saving, increased production benefits and the simplification of the network at a design level.
“Many of our customers know that this new technology will get the South African industry on par with the rest of the world and expand our Industry 4.0-compatible product range.”
SMC can assemble application-specific valve manifolds locally and its local stock holding enables it to meet huge demand requirements with short lead times.
“Once we have gauged customer interest in the coming months and the wireless module has been added to our local stock, the lead time for a wireless manifold will decrease from ten to three days,” states Holland.
SMC offers free frequency-spectrum analysis to identify a facility’s current wireless spectrum use, whereby it offers free demonstrations of the wireless valve bank and discusses how the technology can be incorporated into existing operations.