Flexxbotics, which offers manufacturers software and robots for digitalized workcells, has announced the next generation of its FlexxCORE platform. The Boston-based company also said its patent-pending technology is compatible with Haas Automation CNC machines.
Many digitalization initiatives break down in the manufacturing workcell, according to Flexxbotics.
“These failures happen because the robots used in machine tending are seldomly connected directly to factory equipment due to protocol incompatibilities and interface complexity,” it added. Flexxbotics said this can result in “limited efficiency gains, unexpected quality issues, and unplanned downtime.”
FlexxCORE is designed to enable robots to securely communicate with all types of automation in a smart factory, said Flexxbotics. The new version is compatible with more than 1,000 models of CNC machines, other factory machinery, and inspection equipment options. FlexxCore can also create connectors 22x faster than conventional automation integration methods, the company claimed.
“We believe that, moving forward, the robots must not only communicate with all the existing machinery in the smart factory; the robots will [also] be the conductors of autonomous process control by orchestrating production and inspection in the workcell,” stated Tyler Modelski, co-founder and chief technology officer of Flexxbotics. “What we’re doing with our FlexxCORE technology is enabling global companies to embrace robot-driven manufacturing at unprecedented scale.”
FlexxCORE connects robots, other equipment
“FlexxCORE is a low-code environment for composing and running connectors,” said Flexxbotics. “[It] 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.”
The company cited key features of FlexxCORE:
Protocol compatibility – FlexxCORE is compatible with standards such as OPC/UA, MTConnect, Modbus-TCP, TCP/IP, Ethernet/IP, and DeviceNet. It is also compatible with proprietary protocols like FOCAS2/FOCAS, MELSEC, Profibus/Profinet, OSP300/OSP200, and Haas NextGen, said Flexxbotics.
Command and control – FlexxCORE can handle bidirectional communication, transform, and routing capabilities for the robots and connected machines. These include loading PLC programs, sending instructions, and updating parameters and status awareness so robots can control smart factory equipment, the company said.
Open hybrid architecture – FlexxCORE’s SaaS/hybrid architecture runs both online and offline so production can continue regardless of Internet access. Flexxbotics said it works with existing systems such as CAD/CAM, MES, SCADA/HMI, IIoT, ERP, PLM, custom systems and others “for unmatched extensibility.”
FlexxCORE enables robots to draw from DNC interfaces and to directly manipulate G-code at the machine level to make closed-loop programmatic adjustments to PLC programs in real-time, said Flexxbotics.
“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,” the company explained.
Flexxbotics touts benefits of updated tech
Flexxbotics said the latest generation of FlexxCORE provides benefits such as:
- Coordinated operations – It can directly synchronize robot and machine operations.
- Closed-loop quality – In-line quality control and adjustments are based on inspection results.
- Faster setup – FlexxCORE can reduce workcell setup time and add flexibility for part machining.
- Quicker changeover – The technology is designed to make transitions between different parts and jobs more efficient.
- Reduced downtime – Minimized downtime can lead to higher overall productivity, said the company.
- Higher yields – FlexxCORE promises to improve quality and consistency, said Flexxbotics.
- Lower processing cost – This leads to reduced operating costs.
- Optimized cycle time – The platform is intended to increase throughput for faster production.
- More capacity – Manufacturers are able to increase capacity with the same resources.
- Increased profit per part – FlexxCORE users can improve profitability through enhanced efficiency, said the company.
“We view the advancement of robotics in the smart factory as game-changing,” said Tyler Bouchard, co-founder and 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,” the company assserted. “This means avoiding the disruption of rip-and-replace initiatives and risks of all-at-once automation projects.
Robots gain compatibility with Haas CNC machines
Flexxbotics this week said FlexxCORE can now make robotic machine tending compatible with Haas Automation machine tools including vertical machining centers, horizontal machining centers, CNC lathes, and rotary tables, as well as five-axis and specialty machines. It said the connectivity includes the Haas Next Generation Control plus Haas Serial and I/O for interfacing to both current and older models.
“We understand that the robots need to work with the CNC machines that manufacturers already have in place, not just the new, latest and greatest equipment they want to buy in the future,” said Modelski, in a release. “That’s why Flexxbotics includes older connection methods and protocols, as well as, today’s most modern approaches.”
In addition, FlexxCORE offers full set of command and control capabilities for Haas machine tools, robots, and other factory equipment, said Flexxbotics.
“With Flexxbotics robots go beyond simply talking to the machinery, the robots control and command the machines for maximum efficiency and production optimization,” added Bouchard. “We see a future where robotics play the central role in Industry 4.0 with the advent of robot-driven manufacturing.”