Ever-taller residential buildings in China require a dynamic market with regard to elevator technology. Indeed, high tech is required to securely compensate for high speeds, wind-related vibrations or even buildings shaking, to name but a few examples. Modern elevator technology is the specialist field of Shanghai-based STEP Electric Corporation. To make sure nothing is left to chance when it comes to elevator construction, the portfolio of the group of companies has included its own robots for some time now.
In early 2013, subsidiary company Shanghai STEP Robotics started operation, specialising in the manufacture of industrial robots for the high-tech production of elevators and cabins. The STEP robots are mainly used in welding lines, for example, for the guide rails for elevators. Extreme accuracy is required here to make sure that nothing goes wrong when the elevator is operational and all the safety regulations are met.
Extensive tests confirm system benefits
The most frequently used robot is a 6-axis model for arc welding. This welding method, which was originally rather performed manually, is being increasingly carried out by robots at STEP, not least for safety reasons. Exact spacing and precise positioning and
Pleased with the successful solution: Bill Lu, Senior Sales Engineer at Weidmüller (left) and Electrical Engineer Xiaofei Liu from STEP
guidance of the welding machine are critical to the success of the welding process. In line with these requirements, STEP has developed a special motion control unit and servo drives for axis control. For the purpose of decentralised control, every robot is equipped with a u-remote station from Weidmüller, which is connected to the superordinate control system via EtherCAT. An extensive test carried out before the system was configured confirmed the benefits of u-remote – minimal installation space combined with signal wiring that is particularly simple to handle.
Plenty of scope for development, from planning through to operation: u-remote is a compact addition to the decentralised switching cabinets for the robots
“No other system on the market offers the same benefits as u-remote when it comes to compactness and user-friendliness,” affirms Li Peng, Head of Software Development at STEP. “Both installing the hardware and starting up the software through the standard browser was child’s play. So we were able to connect binary push button signals, drive relays and contactors via digital output modules very quickly.”
Extensive support during design-in and installation
In addition to u-remote’s product benefits, STEP is also profiting from the extensive services offered by Weidmüller’s Chinese support team. Bill Lu, Weidmüller Senior Sales Engineer, explains: “Our partner could rely on us at all times during the design-in and installation phase. For example, we assisted STEP in connecting u-remote to the EtherCAT master and actively supported the team during the system configuration process. And even now that the solution has been commissioned, we are still working closely together. For instance, we offer product training sessions, keep safety stock in our warehouse and help to maintain our customer’s standard and engineering applications.” With a smile, he concludes: “Due to our positive collaborative relationship, we are already discussing with STEP other complex system solutions comprising both relays
and power feed-in solutions based on electrical connectivity. We will therefore also be supporting STEP on future projects when it comes to the precision alignment of robots and elevators."
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Published in November 2015
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