The automation market continues to evolve rapidly, especially with the current trend towards lightweight and collaborative robots. An increasing number of manufacturers and models are being introduced, targeted at a highly diverse range of tasks, with the interfaces to these robots just as varied the robots themselves. At present, no common authoritative interface standard for these systems exists, and there does not appear to be the likelihood of such a standard being introduced in the near future.

As a company with a philosophy of ongoing product development, Zimmer Group continues to focus on simplifying and reducing the cost of industrial production, through the introduction of its latest innovations, the “Smart Communication Module (SCM)” together with “guideZ” commissioning software. These new products not only complement previous interface developments by the company, but also enable easy parameter configuration and commissioning, whist enabling robot systems which only allow digital communications, to benefit from the advantages and functions of IO-Link components.

The Smart Communications Module (SCM), as a master gateway, is available in two versions: – for installation within a control cabinet (IP20 classification) or for installation directly on the robot flange (IP54 classification). Both versions are designed for connecting two IO-Link components and can program the individual parameters of each of the components, managing the implementation of the bus protocol from digital I/O to IO-Link in the process.  During initial parameter configuration, a temporary Ethernet connection is required.

The SCM makes it possible to use virtually all of the functions of Zimmer Group’s highly advanced IO-Link components, despite the relatively limited capabilities that some robots have with their digital I/O transmission infrastructure.

The second new product recently released by Zimmer Group is the company’s “guideZ” software tool, designed to make the task of commissioning components quick and easy. The software enables user of all skill levels to be guided through the installation and commissioning process in a series of simple steps, by selecting either a “Wizard”, beginner mode, or expert mode. The parameter data of this 7-step commissioning process can be quickly and easily adapted to any PLC control or even small control systems.