New Controller Software Released for Yaskawa Motoman Robots

MLX300 keeps backward compatibility; adds some improvements.

One factor that can discourage manufacturing engineers from
bringing a robot into their production process is the hassle of using a new
programming language. By integrating their robot programming with standard PLC,
Yaskawa Motoman aims to make it simpler to handle robot programming and
hardware compatibility.

The MLX300 software option is the newest generation of interfacing
Yaskawa robot controllers and Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs).

The MLX300 enables operators to control and program Yaskawa
robots in a standard PLC programming environment, eliminating the need to learn
a specific robot programming language. All program execution is performed by
the PLC; the motion control is handled by the Yaskawa robot controller.

Compatible Robots and PLCs

The MLX300 supports all Motoman material handling robots on
the DX200 controller, and their GP-series robots on the YRC1000 controller. The
MLX300 works with Rockwell CompactLogix, ControlLogix and GuardLogix PLCs. The
company is not planning support for any other PLCs.

GP25 Material Handling robot. (Image courtesy of Yaskawa Motoman.)

GP25 Material Handling robot. (Image courtesy of Yaskawa Motoman.)

This “unified controls” approach is intended to simplify
safety design by eliminating redundant electrical interfaces and consolidating
hardware to optimize floorspace. According to the company, the single
controller, single programming environment typically requires a single
programmer to implement an application. In theory, familiarity with the
controls among maintenance technicians would allow faster troubleshooting and
plant acceptance.

Differences between MLX300 and MLX200

The new unit expands the capabilities of MLX200 in three key
ways. First, by expanding the family of supported robots. Any material handling
robot supported on the DX200 or any GP-series robot on the YRC1000 can be used
with MLX300. Secondly, MLX300 provides support for the Functional Safety Unit
(FSU) capabilities of the DX200 and YRC1000 controllers. Finally, additional
servo drives and panels are not required with MLX300.

The MLX300 software option is compatible with any Yaskawa
DX200 material handling robot or YRC1000 GP-series robot. A combination of up
to four robots and positioners can be connected to a single MLX300 system.
Functional Safety Unit (FSU) is available.

While this specific case is limited to certain Yaskawa robots with certain Rockwell PLCs, it’s great to see optimization in the robot controlling market. After all, an easier-to-program production line is a more productive one.