Rockwell Automation is promoting its iTRAK modular, scalable motion control system that provides independent control of multiple magnetically propelled movers on a track. This follows the company's acquisition of Jacobs Automation in early 2014. The simple configuration and patented pitchless technology solves different motion and speed needs, enabling production/handling systems and assembly lines to be readily configured with the aid of a number of accurately positioned carriages.
Several carriages, consisting of a frame and a linear permanent magnet motor, can move individually along straight or curved rails. The iTRAK can be used, for example, on packaging lines, in the medical industry (filling lines for IV bags), and also on assembly and/or test lines for machine construction. The combination of iTRAK technology with the Rockwell Automation integrated Architecture (programmable with Studio 5000 Logix Designer) is said to lay the foundation for a new standard in dynamic linear transport products.
In contrast to 'rigid' systems using chains, V-belts and spindle drives, iTRAK provides a universal platform that is able to carry out any pattern of movement within wide margins. The movement of each carriage can be programmed individually, bringing flexibility. Switching to other products and/or another production sequence presents no problem, since the iTRAK system is suitable for a wide range of applications in a diversity of production environments and industries.
In addition to its flexibility, iTRAK can operate at speeds of up to 7m/s, at a positioning accuracy (stops) of 0.05mm. Accelerations of up to 10'g' enable fast starts from a standing position, which makes it a dynamic linear transport system, designed with energy-efficient linear motors using powerful magnets and advanced digital control. Furthermore, because accelerations and decelerations are fully programmable, fragile parts or vessels containing liquids can be handled safely.
The Italian-based Cama Group, known globally for the cutting-edge technology and reliability of its packaging systems for food and non-food industries, recently introduced a new cartoning machine based on iTRAK. The system is totally integrated with the Rockwell Automation hardware and software technology, selected by Cama to build the automation and control core of the machine.
Riccardo Panepinto, Operations Director at Cama Group, says: "Featuring 10 per cent reduced floor space and an advanced control software system, the CL 175 uses less steel in its construction." Further benefits to the end user include optimised format changeover, lower maintenance needs and energy savings. The automatic changeover does not require manual intervention and is key to the machine performance improvement too. This video clip shows iTRAK in action.
Both horizontal and vertical transport lines can be assembled using iTRAK rail sections that are available in straight and curved (90 degree) versions in standard lengths of 400mm. Moreover, the rail sections come with three different motor frame sizes (50, 100 and 150mm) for various outputs. Carriages are available in standard versions and with customisation for specific applications. Customers can also design their own carriages if they chose to. Take a look at this video, to see a bag-filling line using custom-made carriages.
Power and control modules are included with the iTRAK system and are designed for global voltage inputs. Programming is carried out using the Rockwell Automation Studio 5000 Logix Designer, while communications are enabled by EtherNet/IP. Follow the link for more information about the iTRAK modular, scalable motion control system.