Beckhoff Releases its New Modular Industrial Robot System

July 10, 2022 by Stephanie Leonida

Beckhoff showcases its latest modular industrial robot system at Automatica 2022, the ATRO, which features added link modules of different designs and dimensions, giving users the flexibility to meet their automation needs.

Open Automation

Beckhoff Automation showcased its latest modular industrial robot system, the Automation Technology for Robotics (ATRO), at Automatica 2022, providing their visiting customers and virtual attendees an up close and personal experience of their newest technology. With its scalable ATRO system, Beckhoff aims to bring about open automation technology. The ATRO system features standardized motor modules with integrated drive functionality. According to Beckhoff, added link modules of different designs and dimensions give users the flexibility to meet their automation needs.

Control of the modular robots/cobots is linked to Beckhoff’s TwinCAT software platform and provides customers with the ability to add various engineering components and automation functions (such as measurement, HMI, connectivity, motion, industry-specific, or vision functions). According to Beckhoff, TwinCAT can turn almost any PC-based system into a real-time control with multiple PLCs, CNCs, and/or robotics runtime systems. 


Endless axis rotationWith its wide range of kinematic set-ups, customers can configure their robot/cobot solution with any desired number of axes. Image used courtesy of Beckhoff 


The possibilities for kinematic set-ups include but are not limited to 2-axis delta robots and 7-axis robotics systems. This flexibility with regards to kinematics allows customers to adapt or configure their robot/cobot solution to suit any task with the desired number of axes. All software and hardware components are matched and fully networked to each other to provide synchronization and mutual data access. The availability of EtherCAT enables component synchronization. A more dynamic and synchronized machine means that customers can save time on commissioning. 


Scalable Solutions

Beckhoff’s ATRO is linked with the Xplanar motor system and XTS linear transport system. This allows for the generation of streamlined and compact machine designs. The ATRO system’s integration into Beckhoff’s wider system architecture allows for robot/cobot solutions to be designed more readily for faster deployment. This can help customers speed up time to market and boost productivity.

ATRO communication interface connections

With an internal media feed running from the base of Beckhoff robots/cobots to the end-effectors, each axis can rotate endlessly without disruption. Image used courtesy of Beckhoff 


The ATRO system benefits from an open control architecture. This means it can be connected to all possible interfaces in cell/plant communication (such as PROFINET, EtherNet/IP, OPC UA) or the cloud. Beckhoff’s EtherCAT Fieldbus system is used to control the modules in sub-millisecond cycles. EtherCAT is a network protocol for industrial automation that was designed to overcome the limitations of traditional protocols. It can be used in various industries such as automotive, aerospace, and medical devices. EtherCAT allows these industries to communicate over networks with high data rates and low latency.

The axes of cobots and robots within the ATRO system can rotate endlessly because a media feed for fluids, power, and data are all routed internally. The media feed runs from the base and through the connected modules of a robot/cobot to the end effector. This feature allows customers to integrate tools, such as mechanical, pneumatic, or electric grippers to the bot with greater ease.