At last week’s Fakuma, one of the operative themes was definitely ‘connectivity’, a word much at the forefront of the minds of exhibitors, whether they were showcasing machinery, peripherals, services - or even, somewhat unexpectedly, materials. While connectivity obviously did not mean the same thing to all, the idea of the ‘network’, between people, people and machines or just machines, was in evidence everywhere.
At the booth of France’s Sepro Group, the company was previewing two new, intelligent robot connectivity and control apps, both part of “Open 4.0,” Sepro’s name for its philosophy of connectivity, which, the company said, goes beyond achieving connectivity between systems.
“To us, Industry 4.0 demands that people, machines, and companies ‘connect’ in much more significant and powerful ways, ways that allow them all to perform to their highest potential,” as Jean-Michel Renaudeau, CEO of Sepro Group, explained it.
“These apps provide two examples of how next-generation robot controls can support better-informed, faster, and more productive human decisions.”
The OptiCycle app helps personnel to optimize robot cycles and reduce overall production times. When applied to existing robot programs, OptiCycle can reduce robot cycle (in and out) times up to 40 percent and typical injection-moulding cycles by about 5 percent, delivering a corresponding increase in productivity. It can be used by programmers of any skill level - the operator needs only to answer a few questions and teach the main points in Sepro’s Visual software and Opticycle can automatically optimize the cycle time inside the mould.
The second development, called Live Support, is a smartphone-based technical support app that simplifies and accelerates customer access to Sepro technical service, troubleshooting, and hotline support. Using their smartphones, customers will be able to initiate service requests quickly, list concerns or questions, and add detailed robot status simply by scanning a QR code. The app delivers the service request and data directly to Sepro’s Service Hotline technicians, and returns a message confirming receipt, followed by a call button that connects directly with the Hotline. The app supports voice or two-way - ‘Live’ - video communication between Sepro support representatives and customers.
The company was demonstrating the new apps and gathering information from visitors to be used in finalizing the commercial versions, which will be introduced in 2018.