ABB has partnered with Canada’s PMI (Planar Motors Inc.) to expand its machine automation offering by integrating PMI’s magnetic levitation technology into its own Machine Automation Division’s (B&R) portfolio.
The partnership aims to help accelerate the industry’s transition from strictly linear production to an open and adaptive manufacturing space.
This will support B&R customers in the transition to highly flexible and precise manufacturing in response to the fundamental shift to batch size one production and shorter product lifecycles.
Furthermore, ABB has taken a significant equity stake in PMI as part of the agreement.
“Through our partnership, we are complementing our industry-leading robotics and machine automation portfolio and fostering our position as the only company to offer machine manufacturers and industrial customers the entire range of integrated hardware and software solutions from a single source,” says Sami Atiya, president of ABB Robotics and Discrete Automation.
Launched under the new product name ACOPOS 6D, the rail-free product transportation system comes with intelligent shuttles that move independently between stations, without being bound to a rigid, sequential production flow.
The shuttles are contactless, noiseless, and precise, gliding freely above a surface, accelerating, and manoeuvring in every direction with six degrees of freedom – they can even move vertically on walls.
“With ACOPOS 6Dm we are once again pushing the boundaries of technology by capitalising on our strong partner network,” Atiya adds.
“The capability of ACOPOS 6D delivers unprecedented flexibility for a wide range of industries, allowing sectors such as healthcare and pharma to benefit from our flexible manufacturing solutions.”
Like automated guided vehicle systems (AGVs), customers benefit from the freedom of movement of objects carried within or between several machines.
With ACOPOS 6D, machines can simultaneously manufacture different product variants or even entirely different products, with each shuttle able to navigate its own way through the production process, amongst a swarm of other shuttles, taking its individual product on a unique path to the stations it needs for customised production.
“Partnering with ABB will ensure we can further develop our technology and revolutionise industrial manufacturing,” says Xiaodong Lu, president and co-founder of PMI.
“Our technology will work seamlessly with ABB’s machine automation solutions, allowing customers to benefit from unrivalled flexibility, precision and intelligence.”
ABB is a member of the Australian Packaging & Processing Machinery Association (APPMA).