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Robots promise to help manufacturers increase productivity, but they need to be connected to other systems. Flexxbotics announced that its FlexxCORE machine-tending software is now compatible with the full line of Hardinge Inc.’s automation equipment. Boston-based Flexxbotics claimed that Hardinge customers can use its systems for digitalized workcells to increase throughput, yields, and profit per part.
The company said its FlexxCORE flagship product enables robots to securely connect with all types of automation in a smart factory. Flexxbotics recently released the latest version of FlexxCORE, which is compatible with more than 1,000 models of CNC machines, inspection equipment, and other factory machinery.
“When robots are unable to communicate with the CNC machines they are tending, the efficiency gains are minimal, and quality issues occur,” Tyler Modelski, co-founder and chief technology officer of Flexxbotics, said in a release. “We understand the complexities of robot-machine communication and control, which is why we built such robust capabilities in Flexxbotics to give the robots the ability to optimize each machine’s operation.”
FlexxCORE enables tending of Hardinge equipment
FlexxCORE also now works with the full line of grinding equipment from Hardinge brands. These include Hauser, Jones & Shipman, Kellenberger, Tschudin, Usach, and Voumard.
The software also works with WPT’s laser welding and Ohio Tool Works’ (OTW) vertical and horizontal honing. This compatibility includes Hardinge FANUC and Mitsubishi controllers, with connectivity for current and other models.
End users with Hardinge machinery now have access to a full set of bidirectional communication, transform, and routing capabilities, said Flexxbotics. This includes loading PLC programs, sending instructions, updating parameters, and status awareness, depending on the equipment’s capabilities. The company said this enables the robots to drive the machines in a smart factory.
Flexxbotics touts potential benefits
“Flexxbotics enables the robots to do more than simply monitor CNC machines,” stated Tyler Bouchard, co-founder and CEO of Flexxbotics. “The robots communicate and instruct the machines for coordinated and optimized operation.”
“We believe robots must be not just intelligent, but [also] empowered to deliver on the promise of robot-driven manufacturing,” he said.
Flexxbotics explained that its technology is compatible with a range of open standard protocols, including OPC/UA, MTConnect, Modbus-TCP, TCP/IP, Ethernet/IP, and DeviceNet. It’s also compatible with proprietary controllers and interfacing tools such as Profibus/Profinet.
The company said its SaaS/hybrid architecture also runs both online and offline, so production can continues with or without Internet access. In addition, FlexxCORE can work with existing business systems, like CAD/CAM, SCADA/HMI, IIoT, MES, ERP, PLM, and others for complete synchronization, it claimed.
Automated machine tending can help small and midsize enterprises (SMEs) be globally competitive, noted Kim Pvlsen, president and CEO of Universal Robots, in the Harvard Business Review. He recommended that SMEs review their processes, start with simple applications, and find the right partners.
“Workcell digitization is the backbone of the smart factory,” said Flexxbotics. By offering autonomous process control for advanced machining operations, the company said it can deliver robot-driven manufacturing at scale.