Comau, Siemens Partner to Integrate Robotics, AI in PLC

Comau and Siemens demonstrated how Siemens programmable logic controllers (PLCs) can communicate with Comau robot controllers at industrial level.

At the event “The Integration of Robotics and Artificial Intelligence in the PLC”, the two companies presented several application cases to demonstrate the concrete ability of Siemens PLCs to communicate at an industrial level with Comau robot controllers. The event was held at the MADE – Competence Center Industry 4.0 in Milan, Italy. MADE Center was created to support and accompany Italian manufacturing companies on the path of technological innovation and digital transformation.

Comau and Siemens enable the integration of Comau robot controllers to Siemens’ PLC through Profinet Standard Robot Command Interface.

A connection was established based on the Profinet “Standard Robot Command Interface”. Specifically, the interface is a protocol that increasingly facilitates and improves the integration of Comau robots with Siemens programming and control systems. The SIMATIC Robot Library, which is available for PLCs or the Siemens Programmable Logic Controller S7-1500, has made this possible through the “Comau Next Generation Programming Platform”, an innovative platform found in Comau robot controllers.

Benefits of Seamless Integration

During the event, the benefits of seamless integration were highlighted, both for original equipment manufacturers and final customers. The use of artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms to optimize robot handling, grasping and inspection processes was also demonstrated. Standard Robot Command Interface enhances robots’ industrial applications in fast-developing sectors, such as food, beverage, and pharmaceuticals where the use of automation is growing significantly. Finally, robotic solutions with this interface were also shown. Therefore, the benefits are many.

By creating a single programming environment, this solution simplifies the management of automation on multiple levels; from the handling of a single robotic arm, to the integration between robot and automatic machine, to the automation of an entire work line. As a result, companies can save costs and operational time, increasing their efficiency and productivity.

More generally, the use of the SIMATIC Robot Library together with the Comau Next Generation Programming Platform helps reduce the difficulty of deploying automation solutions. Companies that already use a Siemens PLC and want to introduce Comau robots into their lines without investing in complex technology or having to face a challenging learning curve can benefit from this.

Finally, thanks to three levels of simulation, event attendees were able to appreciate the digital twin of the Comau robot in a free space and inside the workstation. The audience also witnessed the use of Process Simulate software to simulate the robotic arm inside the entire production line.

“We are pleased that the MADE 4.0 Competence Center, a point of reference for industrial innovation for Italian manufacturing companies, has hosted the presentation of the new solution developed by Comau and Siemens to increasingly simplify and speed up the communication between Comau robots and Siemens programming systems,” explained Duilio Amico, Head of Sales EMEA Robotics at Comau. “A joint technology that is useful in multiple industries, including high-growth sectors such as Food & Beverage and Pharma, where the use of a high degree of automation is now strategic in order to lower working time and costs.”

“The event held today at MADE – Competence Center Industry 4.0 in Milan – is a meeting aimed at showing in concrete terms how industrial robots can be integrated into our controllers,” said Cristian Sartori, Product Management Head of Advanced Automation at Siemens. “Thanks to the “Standard Robot Command Interface,” our PLCs speak the same language as the robots, thus offering greater speed and flexibility in design. This technological breakthrough is also an enabler for integration into applications in different technology areas such as robotics and artificial intelligence.”

Standard Robot Command Interface

The Standard Robot Command Interface is a Profinet Consortium protocol for industrial communication that enables companies to:

– reduce the degree of complexity in application design

– use automation and PLC language skills

– create a universal program for both the machine and the industrial arm

Also, the interface offers tangible cost and time savings since all automation products and cells can be managed without specific skills in robotic programming. The proposed solution is totally flexible. In addition to the simplicity of application design or reconversion, it also helps the end user, who can operate and maintain a modular and adaptable system from a single human-machine interface for both machine and robot.

Application Case

Working with a major automotive customer, Comau has verified a reduction in configuration and programming costs when using kinematics resolution in the robot controller,  and leveraging the single programming interface for both the PLC and robot.

In addition to automotive, applications include all end-of-line processes, pick and place, handling of boxing and palletizing operations, and logistics. Another major benefit is the ability to virtually program Comau robots with the Siemens virtual PLC controller in a single operation. Through this, end users and system integrators can refine the programming sequence. They can download the program on site and immediately start operating the robot.