Machinery IndustryRobotsInterview with KUKA Roboter > Interview with KUKA Roboter, part 2

Interview with Dr. Joachim Strobel and Philipp Kremer, KUKA Roboter

How KUKA facilitates the engineering of robots and machine automation

Dr. Joachim Strobel, Manager Sales Channels, and Philipp Kremer, Product Manager mxAutomation with KUKA Roboterhighlight the realization of mxAutomation by software, its integration into control systems, how the machine-builder may integrate his own software modules, the tools for selecting robots and finally the enhanced situation at the end-user: Single-Point-of-Operation and easier service.


How did KUKA implement the mxAutomation by software?

mxAutomation appears as standard PLC library

KUKA mxAutomation with PLC module.

mxAutomation provides a PLC library, which the machine-builder integrates into his development environment for the machine. After integration and execution on the machine control system the mx Automation modules provide the requested command execution for the robot. So the control system operates the machine as before. Additionally it also commands the robot synchronously to the machine process. The robot provides path planning, compensations and  – very important – the designated robot safety concept.  

Do any losses occur in performance due to this translation?  

According to our experiences the loss in performance is about 1% – 2%, a loss that is regarded as marginal.  

You called the Sinumerik from Siemens as example for the application of mxAutomation. Into which further controls can mxAutomation be integrated?

The integration of mxAutomation in control systems

KUKA mxAutomation can be integrated in control system from Siemens, Rockwell and Codesys.

mxAutomation is basically integrable into the Simatic S7 and the Rockwell Logix Controller enabling the use in Europe, Asia and America. Beyond that mxAutomation supports the CODESYS based control system platforms from e.g. Beckhoff.

mxAutomation provides the related control-typical Ethernet protocols such as ProfiNet, EtherNet/IP and EtherCAT. The connection to Sercos III is under way via a partner. By the way, the Sinumerik application is based on the standard embedded S7-PLC, which is not visible for the machine operator. That is exactly the same approach KUKA will use with other technology interfaces.  

Machine-builders stress the decisive role of software as competitive advantage according to the market survey about the engineering of the machine automation. I'll pick out two aspects of competitive advantages, i.e. by means of software to flexibly adapt to customer requests and to protect own software solutions. Do not feel these machine-builders somewhat restricted as robot programming is based on a standardized PLC library?

How the machine-builder can integrate customized software

The mxAutomation's PLC library covers all elementary frequently used robot movements. These movement profiles can now be used within the familiar control engineering environment in a time-saving manner.

Who would like to realize further special movement profiles beyond this benefit may use, supported by our engineering department, so-called TechFunctions. They are written in KRL (=KUKA Robot Language) and transmitted via their interface into the control system as IEC61131 module. This enables special and protected software solutions. So mxAutomation ensures both to reduce the engineering efforts and to realize individual software solutions.

Even in case the external control is not a PLC the modules of the mxAutomation may be provided as modules written in C++ oder C# according to a mutual agreement.  

The right selection of the robot belongs to the engineering of the robot application. How does KUKA support this process?

The tools for the robot's right selection

First of all by the fact that the machine-builder can make his choice from a program of far more than 200 designs structured according to a modular system principle. This variety covers almost all applications at the machine, whether it should be a ceiling-mounted robot operating from the ceiling in work creating, footprint-saving manner, or a robot installed as a console robot on the machine or a small robot in the machine, whether the robot should be splash-proof, KUKA's program considers all such important aspects of the operating conditions. And for the export-oriented machinery industry this comprehensive robot program is substantially supplemented and secured by worldwide availability of products and services.

So that the machine-builder keeps track of these application varieties in his engineering, there are KUKA's advisory sales specialists, further the simulation tool KUKA.Sim, which ensures the detailed planning of the robot use in a reliable, secure and easy manner. And apropos mechanical design: also our control will provide in the future to be integrated into a customer housing with its "panel mounted" version.

Of course, the robot's various movement possibilities require getting familiar with them in order to exploit the efficiency potentials. That is already well-known for the machine-builder from high performance drives. Via the support on-site the machine-builder will get information or he will join basic courses from KUKA, which enable for the first independent startup after three days to one week.  

We have talked about the mxAutomation's benefits for machine-builders. What about the customers of the machine-builder, the end-users, in regard to mxAutomation?

At the end-user Single-Point-of-Operation by mxAutomation

End-users have largest interest in a fast, reliable and safe operation of the machines in production. Without mxAutomation there are two terminals at a machine with robots, one for the operation of the machine and the second one for the operation of the robot.

High clock rates and a differentiated product program are typical for modern production plants requiring fast, reliable entries from the machine operator. With fault conditions in the flow of production the robot must be driven freely and the fault condition eliminated. The faster the operator will eliminate the fault conditions, the better. However, he is dealing with two operating panels with various layouts and functions. Of course, this situation favors operation errors but with mxAutomation this situation belongs to the past.

With mxAutomation there is mere only one terminal for machine and robot, a standardized layout, i.e. the familiar layout from the machine operation. By simple key press if necessary the operator switches between machine and robot back and forth looking at the robot on the display in the same kind as at the machine. So the higher efficiency by the use of robots proceeds in the operation of machines with robots. The result is a unified efficiency increase of production.  

And what does mxAutomation mean for the end-users' service?

Simpler service with the end-user by mxAutomation

The service at the end-user does not have any longer to deal with two worlds regarding  PLC and robots; in fact, the service will only operate in the familiar world of the PLC resp. control system. The service, whose qualification for the control is adequate, connects his engineering tool and looks at the entire robot program, the display visualizes the robot axes in the familiar way of the machine axes. Of course, the service has to get accustomed with the robot's electrical equipment as he did with high performance drives. So mxAutomation also relieves and supports the service of the end-users.  

Similarly applies to the service of the machine-builder. Two service specialists, one for the control, the second one for the robot, do not have to travel any longer worldwide, now only one expert is sufficient to handles the entire robot application via the control system.  

Beyond that KUKA's global support is ready 24 hours per day; 7 days the week, expert hotline, fastest spare part availability, worldwide regional branches with certified training centers and finally a professional refurbishment.  

Dr. Strobel, Mr. Kremer, thank you for the interview.

To page 1 of the interview with the topics:

  • Robots supporting the "breathing factory"
  • The starting point to support the engineering: mxAutomation
  • mxAutomation in the machinery industry
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Page 1 of the interview

  • Robots supporting "breathing factory"
  • The starting point: mxAutomation
  • mxAutomation in the machinery industry



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About the KUKA Roboter GmbH

The KUKA Roboter GmbH, with its headquarters in Augsburg, is a member of the KUKA Aktiengesellschaft and ranks among the world’s leading suppliers of industrial robots.

Core competencies are development, production and sale of industrial robots, controllers and software. The company is the market leader in Germany and Europe and the number three in the world.

KUKA Roboter GmbH employs about 3400 people worldwide. In 2013, sales totaled 754,1 million Euro. 28 subsidiaries provide a presence in the major markets of Europe, America and Asia.


KUKA Aktiengesellschaft
Zugspitzstr. 140
86165 Augsburg

Telefon +49(0)821-797-4000

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More informationen

KUKA brochure for mxAutomation.
To download click on the picture, please.

"Please do not hesitate... contact me for your questions".

Foto from Philipp Kremer, KUKA Roboter
Philipp Kremer