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Quick product changeover – The Siemens Multi-Carrier System and digital twin ensure dynamic production

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Paro AG develops and builds individual, medium to large volume production and assembly systems. In order to guarantee high clock-pulse rates and process flexibility, the business uses linear technology in its machines and systems. Integral to this is the Siemens Multi-Carrier System (MCS) which, typically, keeps setup times to a minimum when changing products. The mechatronic system concept was initially tested using a digital twin which had been created using Siemens technology. This meant that only two days were required for the actual system to be installed and successfully commissioned.

The Siemens Multi-Carrier System which is based on a Simatic controller S7-1500 T-CPU (Central Processing Unit) is integrated into the versatile Paro-Motion linear system. Transport carriages or carriers are individually and flexibly positioned and moved along a track by the MCS. The linear technology used in the Paro system covers the transfer systems, the pick&place units (assembly handling module), and the flexible assembly robots which process from five to 60 parts per minute. “We have always been able to cope with either flexible requirements or batch sizes of 1: We build machines and systems for the specific application. Typically, over 50 percent of the functionality is developed to customer requirements,” explains Gregory Kyd, Engineering Manager at Paro.

Digital twin simplifies actual commissioning

This high degree of flexibility presents Paro with many significant challenges in terms of the time required to develop machines and systems. To keep project schedules for special machinery to a minimum, the risks and error sources, specifically in the critical feed system, must be identified and resolved in advance. To this end, Siemens supported the project by producing a digital twin for the guidance system using the Mechatronics Concept Designer. The digital twin allowed the behavior and functionality of the whole system to be tested and validated in a model. In addition to this, it was possible to run the development of the Multi-Carrier System and the versatile Paro-Motion system from the digital image in parallel which reduced the implementation time for the machine significantly. Furthermore, the virtual commissioning of the MCS provided an optimum platform for integration and actual commissioning. The result: It was possible to complete the first and successful test run of the actual system in only two days.

Maximum standardization for efficient use of resources

“I would estimate that, in the future, we will equip 15 to 25 percent of all new linear machines and systems with a Multi-Carrier System. In addition to this, we can also easily retrofit existing machines,” enthuses Kyd. “The modularity of the solution allows us to increase the degree of standardization in our machines and systems in the medium-term which has a positive effect on project schedules. And last but not least, we can also make efficient use of our expertise and resources thanks to the uniform engineering environment used for MCS and the system automation. Overall, it gives us much more freedom so that we can develop even more flexible and powerful solutions for our customers.”

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