Robot connectivity software enables smart factories

Robot connectivity software enables smart factories

Technology News |
By Jean-Pierre Joosting

Flexxbotics, delivering workcell digitalization for robot-driven manufacturing, has announced the next generation of the revolutionary FlexxCORE™ connectivity software for smart factories.

The patent-pending FlexxCORE technology enables robots to securely connect and communicate with all types of automation equipment in the smart factory to provide more powerful, flexible and open connectivity than previously possible. With FlexxCORE the robot can go far beyond simply communicating with the machinery, it can control and command the machines.

Flexxbotics workcell digitalization is the backbone of the Smart Factory, delivering robot-driven manufacturing at scale with autonomous process control for advanced machining operations. As the critical enabling software infrastructure for robot and machine connectivity in the Flexxbotics system, this innovative, new FlexxCORE version delivers compatibility with over 1000 different models of CNC machines, other factory machinery and inspection equipment options, and enables 22x faster connector creation than conventional automation integration methods.

To date many robotic digitalization initiatives breakdown in the manufacturing workcell. These failures happen because the robots used in machine tending are seldomly connected directly to factory equipment due to protocol incompatibilities and interface complexity resulting in limited efficiency gains, unexpected quality issues, and unplanned downtime.

“We believe that moving forward the robots must not only communicate with all the existing machinery in the smart factory, but will also be the conductors of autonomous process control by orchestrating production and inspection in the workcell,” explains Tyler Modelski, Co-founder and CTO of Flexxbotics. “What we’re doing with our FlexxCORE technology is enabling global companies to embrace robot-driven manufacturing at unprecedented scale.”


What is FlexxCORE?

FlexxCORE is the unique software infrastructure for machine connectivity at the center of the Flexxbotics system for robot-driven manufacturing. FlexxCORE is a low-code environment for composing and running connectors that includes a highly secure, high-performance framework for data pipelines with protocols, class structures, method sets and data models for communication and interoperability between robots and all different types of factory assets. 

Key features of FlexxCORE include:

  1. Complete Protocol Compatibility — FlexxCORE is compatible with a wide range of protocols including open standards like OPC/UA, MTConnect, Modbus-TCP, TCP/IP, Ethernet/IP, DeviceNet and others, as well as, proprietary protocols such as FOCAS2/FOCAS, MELSEC, Profibus/Profinet, OSP300/OSP200, Haas NextGen and many more.
  2. Full Command and Control — FlexxCORE handles a full set of bidirectional communication, transform and routing capabilities for the robots and machines connected including loading PLC programs, sending instructions, updating parameters and status awareness so the robots control and command the smart factory equipment.
  3. Open Hybrid Architecture — FlexxCORE’s SaaS/hybrid architecture runs both online and offline so that production continues regardless of internet access, and Flexxbotics works with existing systems in the smart factory such as CAD/CAM, MES, SCADA/HMI, IIoT, ERP, PLM, custom systems and others for unmatched extensibility.

FlexxCORE empowers the robots to draw from DNC interfaces and directly manipulate G-code at the machine level to make closed-loop programmatic adjustments to PLC programs in real-time. For example, FlexxCORE can read, write and update macro variables, parameters, and offsets – such as tool / fixture / work offsets – based on inspection results to adjust for tool wear and other factors so part production remains consistent to specification and tolerance for highly precise quality.

Operational benefits include: 

  1. Coordinated Operations — Direct synchronization between robot and machine operations
  2. Closed-Loop Quality — In-line quality control and adjustments based on inspection results
  3. Faster Set-Up — Reduced workcell set-up time and greater flexibility for part machining
  4. Quicker Change-Over — More efficient transitioning between different parts and jobs
  5. Reduced Downtime — Minimized downtime leading to higher overall productivity

Business benefits include:

  1. Higher Yields — Improved quality and consistency
  2. Lower Processing Cost — Reduced operating costs
  3. Optimized Cycle Time — Greater throughput for faster production
  4. More Capacity — Increased manufacturing capacity with the same resources
  5. Increased Profit per Part — Improved profitability through enhanced efficiency

“We view the advancement of robotics in the smart factory as game-changing,” said Tyler Bouchard, Co-founder & CEO of Flexxbotics. “Robots are shifting the use of digital technology in the factory from primarily planning and monitoring to true intelligent autonomy.”
With the new FlexxCORE at the center of the Flexxbotics solution for robot-driven manufacturing, companies can achieve robotic machine tending results quickly at scale or one workcell at a time avoiding the disruption of rip & replace initiatives and risks of all-at-once automation projects.

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