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Introducing MachineMotion™ - Plug-and-play Industrial Automation is here!

An Interview with Francois, Head of Automation at Vention

Bre Hargreaves VP Product / Jun 21st, 2017

As Vention takes the next step, adding electronic motion components to its fast and easy platform, I sat down with Francois Giguere, our head of Automation here at Vention so that he could introduce the new MachineMotion™ components and functionality on the Vention site.

Vention industrial automatio, MachineMotion, MachineApps

What was the thinking behind Vention MachineMotion?

MachineMotion has been part of Vention’s roadmap since inception. Vention is about democratizing machine design, and very often, machines need motion control.

Most often, machines or custom equipment are created by mechanical designers. For them, the task of selecting all the required components to automate their concept can be quite daunting. They need to select stepper motors, find compatible drivers, select a controller, select a power supply and more. Unless you have a deep background in mechatronic or electrical engineering, you either waste a lot of time figuring this out by yourself, or you pay very high fees to contract the services of an integrator.

Those are the exact pain points we are solving with MachineMotion. We created an integrated motion controller that already contains all the components you need. The only thing left to the mechanical designer to do is connecting the selected sensors and actuators using color-coded ports on MachineMotion and controlling their machine using “Apps” available on the Vention website.

As I said earlier, our goal with MachineMotion is to enable mechanical designers to carry their entire automation design by themselves, with the ease of use that is at the core of Vention’s model.

Take me through designing automated equipment using MachineMotion

This is the best part. The process to design an automated equipment is almost the same as designing a non-automated equipment. To keep things simple, we have curated a selection of fully-compatible motion parts that can quickly be put together in the MachineBuilder.

Users go on Vention’s website and start a new design in the 3D MachineBuilder. Next, they select the mechanical and electrical components needed for their machine, like a linear axis and stepper motor. To finalize the 3D design, users simply add the MachineMotion’s integrated controller anywhere in the design space. From that point, it takes just a few clicks to order the equipment to be shipped next day.

Assembling and commissioning the equipment is just as straight forward and setting up the machine takes only a few minutes. Every component that connects to MachineMotion (e.g., stepper motors, various sensors), comes equipped with color-coded wires and connectors.

Users can connect MachineMotion to any local laptop or computer and use their internet access to go to Vention’s website to download “MachineApps”, which provide an easy-to-use interface, directly on to MachineMotion.

You may have noticed that I never mentioned communication protocol compatibility, motor torque or driver max current. Even though these parameters are key for an effective automated system, we decided to not expose our users to them to keep things fast and easy. All our components are derated very well, providing plenty of room to cover an extremely wide range of use cases. Of course, complete technical documentation can also be found on our website for more advanced users.

Tell me more about the "Apps"?

The MachineApps concept is rooted in the belief that automation professionals will increasingly share and promote their knowledge across industries and applications where automation is required.

Industrial automation is becoming more mainstream, but professionals, are still today, developing programs from scratch, project by project. The concept of “re-use” is still in its infancy and “MachineApps”, we believe, will be an accelerator.

We launched MachineMotion with 4 “MachineApps” available for free on the Vention website. Those include 1, 2 and 3, linear axis Apps as well as a “ControlCenter App”. Soon, our users will be able to develop and publish their own “MachineApps” straight from the Vention website.

To ensure this community is accessible to the broadest audience possible, we intentionally stay away from proprietary controller languages and chose a JavaScript framework. This means that anyone with basic web development expertise is susceptible to learn the eco-system and contribute. This also means that lower cost options to develop proprietary automation software are about to emerge.

Can you share some of the MachineMotion applications that you have seen so far?

Our user have done some very cool project lately, the last few I have seen include:
         - Automated High Resolution Industrial Scanners
         - Robot Arm Extenders (linear axes extending the work area of small, low-cost robot arms)
         - Mechanical Systems Reliability Test Benches
         - Variable Height Rotating Assembly Tables

There will also be a big leap in possible applications once we incorporate portable power sources in our library. From that point on, we can envision crawlers and a gamut of mobile robots.

Any closing thoughts on introducing Machine Motion?

We are very excited about the opportunities MachineMotion can bring to our users. There are already very good high-performance machine controllers out there, and they play an important role in the market. Our strategy is different where we want our users who are machine design experts but not necessarily automation experts, to be able to realize their project on their own, quickly and cheaply.

This interview was conducted in Montreal, Quebec on June 15th, 2017

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