VTEM Motion Terminal

VTEM Motion Terminal

October 10, 2018

Festo Corp.


Festo’s VTEM Motion Terminal, which began shipping earlier this year, is a cyber-physical system (CPS) that embodies the modularity and reconfiguration capabilities envisioned by Industry 4.0. Ten downloadable apps are immediately available with an additional 40 apps planned. Each unique combination of apps changes the motion functionality, giving original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) a new flexible motion control platform. Festo devotes three displays within its extensive booth to Industry 4.0 capabilities.

The VTEM Motion Terminal conforms to the National Science Foundation’s definition of CPS as an engineered system that is built from, and depends upon, the seamless integration of computational algorithms and physical components.

Easier engineering, standardized platform concepts
With a single intelligent valve slice potentially providing the functionality of up to 50 individual components, a CPS such as the VTEM Motion Terminal opens the door to standardized platform concepts for systems and system modules. Standardization considerably reduces hardware costs all along the supply chain as the number of different components that the machine builder or end user must define and stock as spare parts is lower. For example, valve variety is reduced to one and pressure sensor and flow control valves are integrated. By focusing on a flexible CPS platform right from the start, even the planning stage, the search for suitable products and suppliers can be shortened.

Up and running quickly
Design is one of the biggest costs in machine and system building, accounting for approximately 25% to 30% of total cost. A CPS such as the VTEM Motion Terminal enables significant time gains and savings compared with a conventional valve terminal platform. In some cases, the time saved compared with designing and parameterizing a modular valve terminal and additional individual components is up to 70%. While a solution with modular valve terminals requires several individual steps, a solution with CPS moves the organization to its goal faster.

The adaptations are implemented digitally on the product itself, so there is no need to reconfigure the valve terminal, download and create the CAD model, or adapt the hole pattern and assembly drawing, including a parts list. Designers will find the creation of electrical circuit diagrams, the documentation including spare and wearing parts lists, and the approval process speeded up.

Lower costs for data management, logistics, and warehousing

With many fewer components, a CPS minimizes the process steps required for logistics and warehousing and reduces the cost of data management and maintenance. OEMs and end users integrate new functions simply by purchasing the relevant motion app licenses.

Greater reliability, reduced effort
Reducing system complexity is becoming more and more important given that human error is increasingly being identified as the cause of system failures. Solutions with intelligent function integration and fewer interfaces are therefore ideal for achieving maximum efficiency. This reduces assembly work as well as possible errors and any queries that may arise. Having just one standardized component optimizes process sequences for a wide range of functions.

Easier replication of pneumatic systems
Coordinating individual process steps, such as setting the travel speeds of cylinders, is often a time-intensive process in conventional mechatronic systems. CPS solutions generally do not involve complex manual setting processes for components that may sometimes be hard to reach, and they are also self-regulating and self-optimizing in terms of energy consumption. These are clear benefits for machine builders. The travel speed of each individual cylinder can be defined with just a few clicks via the app’s parameter records; this also rules out tampering. The app saves between three and four minutes of setting time per flow control valve. Looking at the annual production of a series machine builder, the cumulative time savings can be substantial. Another big advantage is that all system configurations are completely identical.

Configuration, parameterization of complex solutions
Parameterization should be as fast as possible. Up until now, if a design engineer wanted to precisely and quickly control the pressure to compensate for a pressure drop caused by friction in the compressed air line, he or she needed to determine the parameters empirically, i.e. a higher setpoint value and the time that the pressure stays at this value before it drops back down again to the target value. Using the sensor intelligence and software modules in cyber-physical systems, these tasks are unnecessary. The Festo Motion Terminal has a model-based proportional pressure regulation app for this process. The app can also actively and autonomously respond to changing parameters, such as fluctuations in input pressure.

Maximum productivity, energy efficiency
The VTEM Motion Terminal makes system operation productive, energy efficient, and cost effective. Reconfiguration and adjustments are carried out using software. Diagnostics and intelligent apps prevent stoppages, production errors, and contribute to a fast return on investment.

Format changeovers usually involve changing components such as grippers. This in turn requires adapting pressures or flow rates and travel speeds or entire functions. The VTEM Motion Terminal eliminates many manual procedures – and sources of error. Reconfiguration and adjustments are done via the app or automatically via the PLC, which means that the performance and/or processes of all machines during format changes or in series machines can be improved at the touch of a button.

Function configuration via apps will stop unauthorized parties from analyzing and identifying future functionalities and system designs.

In terms of their basic structure, CPSs are mechatronic systems. In addition, they also have integrated smart sensors and greater software intelligence. One important application for a CPS is to determine external conditions – for example, compressed air leakage – without the need for additional sensors, and then share this information with other systems.  

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