Enter the smart zone

June 21, 2001
The Smart Suite can be assembled to handle a variety of pneumatic functions.

The Smart Suite can be assembled to handle a variety of pneumatic functions.

The Smart Suite is a group of compatible pneumatic products from IMI Norgren Inc., Littleton, Colo. It includes a cylinder, programmable proportional valve, pump, intelligent FRL, and intelligent valve. Manufacturers can configure products in this line to handle key pneumatic functions such as air preparation, pressure and vacuum control, and actuation.

Smart cylinder is an integrated actuator containing its own valve, solenoids, and fieldbus connection. The integrated design makes it easy to specify pneumatic actuators, simplifies installation, and reduces number of parts. It complies with VDMA and IP 66 standards and is interchangeable with other VDMA actuators that have a 32 to 100-mm bore. The Smart cylinder has stroke lengths of up to 1 meter with a top speed of 1.5 m/sec.

Diagnostics in the fieldbus system tell operators whether the cylinder is functioning normally. If maintenance is required, it shows exactly which unit on the machine needs to be replaced.

Programmable proportional valve is microprocessor controlled and uses DeviceNet protocol. Onboard diagnostics include proportional electronic feedback, threshold and tolerance alarms, and a life data display. This allows "plug and play" installation of the unit, and lets designers program it to exact specifications, download parameters, and fine-tune the valve from a central control point.

Smart pump is an energy-efficient vacuum-generating system used extensively by the automotive market to move panels. Cups hold parts as they move between stations and then release them after the operation. To save energy, the pump generates the required vacuum in the cups, then turns off an air pump when the optimum level is reached. If the vacuum drops, the pump restarts. An automatic air ejector keeps the cups from remaining attached once the vacuum is released. If a vacuum starts to build, the pump injects pressurized air, destroying the vacuum and releasing the cup. The Smart pump is ideal for applications that move high-cost items such as panels, or white goods such as washing machines, where loss of vacuum could cause an item to drop.

Intelligent FRL warns operators when elements of the system are outside normal operating limits. It sends an electronic signal travelling either direct to a PLC via an ASI system or to an audible alarm or LED.

The FRL tells operators exactly which elements of the system need attention before downstream equipment is affected. If the problem is not corrected, the FRL can shut the machine down to avoid unsafe operation. Traditional FRLs need regular maintenance to stay in peak condition, but intelligent FRL units let users know if anything needs checked or replaced.

Intelligent valves use a microprocessor controller to predict impending valve failure. Each valve stores operating cycle data and response time, and sends this data to the PLC via a fieldbus link. Built-in software monitors these parameters and predicts routine replacement times and warns of deteriorating operation due to a fault. Parts can then be replaced during routine maintenance instead of in the middle of production after machine failure. A fieldbus linked to a modem operates the valves remotely and tells operators or engineers to replace the valve before it fails.

The valves work with Fieldbus II which was designed to use any of four fieldbus protocols without rewiring or changes to the hardware. A fieldbus "node" converts the system to the chosen protocol. Fieldbus II is compatible with Profibus DP, DeviceNet, CANopen, Interbus-S and will drive up to 64 valves/outputs and 64 inputs, on each system.

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