At last month's Pack Expo International 2000 (Chicago, IL), Cimetrix (Salt Lake City, UT) signed an agreement with SIG Pack (Beringen, Switzerland) to supply software including motion, input/output (I/O), vision integration, conveyor tracking, real-time extensions, and editing functions for SIG's Delta robots. Developed for the packaging industry, the robot will be combined with a PC-based controller using Cimetrix Open Development Environment (CODE) motion-control software. This system will perform mechanism modeling, path planning, kinematics, real-time motion and I/O control, vision integration, and the capability to program the workcell using C++, Visual Basic, Java, or programmable logic control programming.
"Today, software developers have a choice of popular Integrated Development Environments such as Microsoft's Visual Studio," says Steve Sorenson, vice president and chief engineer at Cimetrix. "They also use object-oriented software and leverage Windows NT using Microsoft Foundation Classes. The resulting software produced using these technologies promotes future reuse and reduces downstream errors and maintenance," he adds.
"Unfortunately, the typical software developer for machine- and robot-control applications has not generally benefited from these advances. Systems developers have been forced to use proprietary languages and operating systems or legacy systems," Sorenson adds. When used with Microsoft's Visual Studio, CODE reduces the time and increases the quality of motion-intensive machine- and robot-control applications by providing tools that enable PC-based motion controllers to be designed, developed, tested, and deployed.
Provided with CODE support tools, CIMCal, are a set of motion-to-vision calibration tools and vision utilities for PC-based vision systems from Cognex Corp. (Natick, MA) called CIMVision. To use CIMCal, the systems developer uses a vision algorithm to recognize a fiducial on the part to be moved. Since the application engineer provides this function, CIMCal is independent of the vision system used. Once the appropriate calibration routine is identified and the vision algorithm is provided, CIMCal automatically moves the robot and cameras around, which updates the system's internal model. Once the camera is calibrated, the vision system updates the location of parts relative to the robot.
Available in three- or four-axis versions, SIG Pack's Delta robots are scheduled for use in food, pharmaceutical, and consumer electronics production lines where randomly arranged incoming products need to be placed directly into the in-feed chain of a wrapping machine, trays, or other similar containers.
CODE contains a 3-D simulation package as well as a runtime package. Both packages use the same API so OEMs and integrators can develop their application code and test it in simulation or on an actual mechanism. Machine-control OEMs can develop applications using C++, Visual Basic or the CIMBuilder 1131 environment, which is based on STEP 7 and WinAC display, data processing, and communication software from Siemens (New York, NY).