Mechanical Technology Archive

Yaskawa Southern Africa, through the opening of a new Drives Motion Control (DMC) division at its Longmeadow facility in Gauteng, South Africa, is taking on local responsibility for the full Yaskawa product range. MechTech talks to managing director, Terry Rosenberg.

Globally, Yaskawa is a world leading supplier of industrial robots (Motoman); machine controllers; servo drives and servomotors; and inverter solutions, enabling the company to offer comprehensive automation solutions for a diverse set of markets. Yaskawa’s robotics division has been active in South Africa through Johannesburg-based Robotic Systems SA since 1991, which is the market leader in robotic automation in South Africa with an installed base over 1 000 industrial robots.

Yaskawa Southern Africa CEO Terry RosenbergDuring the first quarter of 2012, a majority stake in Robotic Systems was acquired by Yaskawa Europe and the local entity was renamed Yaskawa Southern Africa. Terry Rosenberg, who was retained as MD of Yaskawa Southern Africa along with his successful local team noted at that time: “After many years of working with the Yaskawa organisation, we are excited to be a fully-fledged partner in this foremost international group of companies.”

In December of that same year, Yaskawa Europe announced the signing of an agreement to acquire a majority share in VIPA, (visualisation and process automation) a specialist Germany-based manufacturer and supplier for I/O modules, PLCs and HMIs.

VIPA CPU Speed7 PLC Studio PLCopenWith the global integration of VIPA, Yaskawa began to expand its product portfolio with a view to becoming a total solutions provider with a portfolio combination comprising VIPA’s product portfolio with Yaskawa’s inverter drives, ac servo solutions and robot product lines.

“Beside the synergies resulting from the combined and integrated product portfolio, there are much more benefits for existing and new Yaskawa customers”, states Manfred Stern, president of Yaskawa Europe. ‘Together with the engineering resources of the Drives & Motion Division and the Robotics Division, Yaskawa Europe now has a strong development team here in Europe, close to our customers and the EMEA markets.”

In March this year, Yaskawa Southern Africa announced the establishment of a new local business unit, DMC (drives, motion, control) bringing, at the behest of its European parent, the full global Yaskawa offering into the Southern African region. “As the local subsidiary of Yaskawa in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region, we are now able to sup- port and supply the full suite of Yaskawa automation solutions to the region.

“Every manufacturing machine, conveyor belt, lifting system, bottle filler or packaging system has controllers, drives and motors that have to be coordinated to optimise the performance of the process,” says Rosenberg. “This is an enormous market for us and a significant growth opportunity.”

The VIPA controller range

VIPA was founded in 1985 as an automation systems house, initially developing PC -based machine operating panels and control and communication modules. The development of the SPEED7 high-speed PLC, which is among the most powerful PLC systems on the global market, was a technological milestone for the company, significantly extending its reach into the automation industry.

As well as this PLC technology, VIPA adds a complete range of PLCs, from small to high performance, along with remote I/O technology, touch panels and SCADA systems to the local Yaskawa offering.

Key global references include carmakers Daimler and Volkswagen. For Daimler, Yaskawa VIPA Speed7 CPUs, SLIO I/O systems and bus technology was used to reliably control and synchronise the complex system of fans, filters and air conditioning equipment required in the paint plant at the new Mercedes Benz compact vehicles plant in Hungary.

And in VW’s Kassel factory in Germany, VIPA, together with ThyssenKrupp, installed the assembly line for double clutch transmissions. A powerful net- work of 37 Speed7 CPUs was created to synchronise 14 robot stations, check the quality in real-time and transmit all the data to the digital control system. This system enables one transmission to leave the assembly line every two minutes.

Inverter drives and motors

Since it was founded about 100 years ago Yaskawa has been developing dedicated mechatronic solutions for industries such as packaging and food processing; lifting and materials handling; cranes, hoists lifts and escalators; textile machines and plants; HVAC systems, fans and pumps; and machines, tools and systems.

In 2007 the company announced the production of its 10 millionth inverter from its Yukuhashi plant in Japan, a statistic that makes Yaskawa one of the largest inverter manufacturer in the world.

For general purpose use, Yaskawa offers its J1000 series for compact automation requirements; the V1000-range where open-loop vector functionality and the use of synchronous/permanent magnet (PM) motors without feedback is preferred; and the A1000 series, which is Yaskawa’s premium inverter, offering superior reliability, environmental benefits and energy savings. Additional features such as auto-tuning to automatically adjust motor settings to achieve highest machine performance, advanced energy-saving control technology and special features for high spindle speed, accurate positioning, and crane and hoist control are available – and via the L1000 and T1000 spinoff series, the A1000 inverter drive has been customised for lift and textile applications.

The company’s special purpose Yaskawa AC variable speed/frequency drive is the world’s first series produced matrix converter and features direct conversion of the ac input voltage to ac output, without the need for a dc-bus and capacitor banks. This ensures a long service life and offers fully regenerative, energy efficient four-quadrant operation without the need for braking options or similar devices.

For servo applications, the company can now offer its Sigma-7 series of next- generation servo systems, which are available in the 50 W to 15 kW power range and operate at speed loop band- width of 3.1 kHz. These deliver the highest performance levels due their unmatched frequency response, reduced setting times and more precise control. In addition, they feature faster setup, simpler tuning and vibration suppression.

For quick and efficient setup, these modern ‘plug and play’ servo amplifiers require no parameter settings and gain adjustments to achieve high-precision positioning. When an existing solution needs to be upgraded, the whole Sigma-7 system can easily be re-configured for a new task. Out of the box servo drive solutions for common tasks – including gantry, pick & place and beam applications – have been developed for Yaskawa’s servo amplifier and servomotor combinations.

On the motor side, the company has a complete range of induction, permanent magnet synchronous and servomotors optimised to match the application and the chosen drive strategy. Motors are available in the power range from 0.1 to 373 kW in various enclosure styles, from open drip-proof to explosion proof. Brushless ac servo motors with maximum speeds of up to 4 500 rpm and torques to 7.0 Nm are on offer, while two different types of machine tool specific motors – single winding and dual winding – complement the company’s spindle range.

Of particular note are the company’s MYSP 160 and MYSP 225 gearless lift motors for lifting loads of between 400 and 2 500 kg for traction elevator applications. These are permanent magnet motors available with traction sheaves designed for elevator ropes of 6.0 mm or 8.0 mm. With pulse-generator encoders and electromagnetic brakes, these motors are designed to be driven by the L1000A inverter drive, the special lifting solution based on the A1000 drive. Designed for three million full load starts, the cooling fans and capacitors in these units have been care- fully selected for a maintenance-free lift life of at least 10 years.

With an initial focus on marketing, Yaskawa DMC is investing in permanent technical and sales personnel as well as offices, training and demonstration facilities. Yaskawa Europe Drives & Motion Division’s South Africa-based partners – including Hudaco Group company, Varispeed, and Anytech, a subsidiary of the Directech Group, a longstanding VIPA representative in South Africa – will be retained as channel partners, fully serviced and supported from the new Yaskawa DMC division in Johannesburg.

Yaskawa Southern Africa will also be equipping its local branch network in Port Elizabeth, Cape Town and Durban with the infrastructure necessary to stock and support the extended range.

“And if someone wants us to build a whole machine, we are willing to do that too. We have always done this on the robot side, but now we can offer much more than robots. We can offer turnkey automation solutions that are 100% customised to a manufacturer ’s exact needs,” Rosenberg concludes.

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