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Self-controlled conveyor system launched

11 March 2018

The Swiss company Avancon SA has launched a conveyor system, which allows customers to save costs for controlling and programming.

It controls itself, even very large and complex material handling systems in logistics centres. The key economic advantages are that a control cabinet or cable ducts are not necessary. Integration into a higher bus / IT topology is said to be easy with the new ZPC system from Avancon.

“We want to save our customers work and costs. That's why we're building this ZPC concept, a zoned propulsion system. The advantages are obvious, both for the conveyor manufacturer and for the system integrator. This concerns the planning, the realisation, the maintenance and last but not least the energy savings. It is very simple and controls itself, so it works completely autonomously,” says Dr Daniele Gambetta, the technical manager of Avancon SA.

“Generally speaking, a huge ZPC-conveyor system can be operated, without a higher bus or IT infrastructure. Since we only use this concept, it does not cost more, because these ZPC systems are already pre-programmed. This means that no further programming effort and no central control cabinet, as well as no cable ducts on the construction site are necessary. However, the ZPC controller can communicate with almost any higher bus/IT architecture.”

Externally everything is smooth, closed and with a modern design. You don’t see whether a motor nor a control system or cables. Everything is hidden, safe and clean installed within the profile frame, even the power supply and in the future also the brushless DC motors. 

However, if one still wants to intervene into the system, make processes visible or wants to receive a warning signal when an element fails out or a motor is overloaded, Avancon has a ready made solution for this. 

But not only, if further devices such as lifts, stacker-cranes and retrieval machines, packaging and palletising machines or robots have to be integrated, this is also possible, provided that other bus systems for this purpose have already been foreseen.

"OK, that's easy," says Denis Ratz, CEO of Avancon SA, "Our control system is equipped with the necessary intelligence and is able to communicate with nearly any higher bus and IT architecture. That can be done very easily and without big expenses, too. That's our advantage. For large systems we are usually very economical, provided that the integrator has understood the system philosophy and follows our guidelines."

From a mechanical point of view, all control elements can be mounted without tools, without screws and without cable fixings. This simplifies the assembly and also the maintenance can be carried out quickly and at very low cost.

For the customer, everything in the firmware is already pre-programmed, even for crossings and switches and sorting lines. In the lower level, the globally known and hard-coded AS- interface fieldbus is used, which already performs many functions. You can visit the website ‘www.as-interface.net’ and download the user manual to your mobile phone.

Apart from that, there are no DIP-switches to operate and no commands for stopping and starting need to be programmed. A maximum of 31 zones of the ZPC system are controlled and monitored by an AS-interface master.

If required, the internal ZPC network can also be equipped with an MCC (Main Control Centre), which has a preprogrammed processing unit (PLC) and a modular gateway to almost all higher bus/IT systems. Generally, Avancon recommends the MCC for larger and more complex systems. It can also take on a lot of other features. Mostly several AS-interface masters are necessary, but they can communicate with each other in the ZPC network, so that there are no limits to the size of a material flow system.