Beckhoff Releases Planar Motor System XPlanar to Promote Machine Flexibility

March 09, 2021 by Sara McCaslin

Beckhoff released the XPlanar, a magnetically levitating planar motor transport system that ensures high flexibility, minimal maintenance, and intelligent control.

As products and manufacturing systems become more individualized, there is an increasing need for more machine flexibility. It can be expensive and time-consuming to redesign and reconfigure the automated systems every time there is a significant product change. This is where a planar motor system such as XPlanar becomes useful. 


EN | XPlanar: Planar motor for levitating product movement with up to 6 degrees of freedom from Beckhoff Automation on Vimeo.


The three key components of the XPlanar system are the mover, tile, and software.


XPlanar Mover

The wireless XPlanar Mover magnetically floats above the XPlanar tiles. The mover can be controlled in six dimensions, supporting not only 2D motion above the tiles but also tilt and rotation. And because these movers are magnetically levitating, no mechanical wear and tear result from physical contact and no friction involved. 


Beckhoff XPlanar starter kit

XPlanar is a highly modular system using magnetically levitating motors to move parts and components during transport. Image used courtesy of Beckhoff


Movers are entirely enclosed, so there is no possibility of contaminating the manufacturing environment; in addition, one model has been designed for hygienic environments. Movers are available in multiple sizes and payloads ranging from 0.4 kg to 4.2 kg and can be coupled together to handle larger payloads or geometries. Note that all movers have a maximum speed of 2 m/s, and Beckhoff claims their motion is jerk-free.


XPlanar Tile

The XPlanar Tiles are where the motor coils, power electronics, power supply, and position feedback lie. The tiles can be configured independently of each other and are not mechanically interconnected, making the setup fast and flexible. 

The tiles communicate with each other via EtherCAT and have a high-performance Fieldbus onboard to support extensive XPlanar systems.


XPlanar Software

The software providing the control, intelligence, diagnostics, and monitoring for the XPlanar system (and integrates the XPlanar system into the TwinCAT 3 environment) is TF5890

This software contains all the tools and drivers needed to work with XPlanar, including linking tiles to form a working system, calculating the movers’ position, avoiding collisions between movers, and controlling individual movers. In addition, the XPlanar software is supported by Windows 7 and Windows 10.


XPlanar Applications

Beckhoff’s XPlanar system is suitable for manufacturing applications requiring intelligent, flexible transport systems. It has been designed to support parallel processing as opposed to sequential processing and can bypass defective stations. 


The XPlanar system is suitable for dealing with product variants and different batch sizes. Image used courtesy of Beckhoff


The smooth movement and contamination-free design can make it a good choice for industries such as food processing, medical manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, laboratory automation, and industrial automation in general. 

The XPlanar system is an excellent option for facilities with a strong interest in automation. It is worthy to note that Beckhoff is offering an XPlanar starter kit for initial development, prototypes, and demonstration plants. The XPlanar system, including all the individual components as well as a complete system, is already available for purchase.