Decentralized Control of Conveyor Modules

EV battery manufacturers require easily scalable conveyor solutions – for smart control of the variable systems, Intralox developed the decentralized logic module ISC CAM with robust Turck block I/Os

Machine builders that need to integrate their machines into higher-level systems often have the choice between two suboptimal alternatives: either integrating their controls in the main line PLC or building up a separate control cabinet with PLCs on each single machine. Both variants are not only complex and expensive, but also not scalable enough to meet the growing demands on modern intralogistics systems. Thus the belting and conveying specialist Intralox developed the Intralox Smart Carryway Automation Module (ISC CAM), an autonomous IP67 unit to control conveyors like the DARB Series 4500. Turck provided its TBEN block modules for the ISC CAM, IP67 PSU67 power supplies and color-coded cables for easy commissioning and cabinet-free installation.

  • With its demo loop in Shanghai, Intralox demonstrates the benefits of decentralized automation

  • ISC CAM: Intralox logic on block modules enables a conveyor system without complex control cabinets

  • Supporting EV battery modules throughout the whole surface is one key advantage of DARB technology

  • Turck's portfolio of IP67 I/O modules ensures a seamless, decentralized approach for modular machines

  • IP67 approach eases cabling and trouble shooting und hence shortens comissioning and time to market

  • The robust PSU67 power supply provides fast cabling and easy installation for all required voltages

  • Fast and trouble-free cabling thanks to M12 connectors with color-coded rings for poka-yoke connections

“We have customers that need to scale their operations very aggressively in order to meet the demands that the electric vehicle makers are going to need,” says Martina Costa, Business Development Analyst for the Automotive Team at Intralox in Amsterdam, a company specialized in conveyance and material handling technology for numerous industries. “Battery manufacturers won’t be able to do that just by building new greenfield plants. They will need to increase the throughput of their existing facilities.” 

Intralox's DARB technology stands for Dual-Stacked Angled Roller Belt – which is able to move items up to 90 degrees perpendicular to the line travel. The DARB technology perfectly complies with the three critical demands for EV battery production logistics, namely: scalability, flexibility and ability to handle batteries directly without pallets. 

Problem: Central PLC solutions poorly scalable

Some lithium-ion battery manufacturers are already benefiting from the capabilities of DARB equipment in their production. But the company identified more room for improvement when looking for the optimal conveyor for the growing battery industry. Intralox is the OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) but the automation of DARB equipment is traditionally done by the integrator of the intralogistics systems using Intralox guidelines. “We realized that this process is not always efficient as much know-how is lost in communication. We sell DARB constantly, but the integrator only does it now and then. That could become challenging for all parties”, explains Martin Benavidez, Intralox Product Manager for ISC. The acronym stands for "Intralox Smart Carryway", an innovative program that aims to develop an automation solution for controlling Intralox machinery, including the DARB product line. Benavidez is driving the project together with Lazlo Kleczewski as Product Design Manager for ISC. 

Decentralized IP67 controls bring flexibility

The solution is the ISC CAM (Intralox Smart Carryway controlled by a Carryway Automation Module), a small IP67 block module that contains Intralox’ software logic to maximize the performance of the equipment without needing an electric cabinet. Turcks TBEN-S provides the hardware platform for the ISC CAM. Thanks to its multiprotocol capabilities, it can service a wide range of customers with minimal product variations. Turck's multiprotocol devices support the Profinet, Modbus TCP and Ethernet/IP protocols and adjust themselves to the Ethernet protocol spoken on the network without user intervention. This allows for an improvement for all parties involved. The integrator only needs to program his PLC to communicate a few basic instructions, thus reducing the effort and risk of integrating and commissioning DARB equipment. The end user will be ensured to always have the latest automation knowledge used in the equipment and can rely on the full Intralox support for DARB equipment. The ISC CAM solves many of the problems that classical automation structure raised. 

DARB demo loop with decentralized automation

To showcase DARB technology as a key conveying solution for EV battery industry Intralox built a demo loop in Shanghai, where potential customers get an impression of the capabilities of the technology. In addition to that, the loop demonstrates the benefits of decentralized automation. Each piece of DARB equipment has its own ISC CAM for the carryway automation, and other key automation functions in the loop, like motor control and safety are distributed into other simple modules. The result is a high level of modularity of both the hardware and software improving set-up, troubleshooting, and modifications like adding or removing a conveyor. 

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