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01 Jan 2024

The Newly Launched EXW1 from SMC Corporation Proves that Less is More

SMC Corporation Stand: E121
The Newly Launched EXW1 from SMC Corporation Proves that Less is More

So much has transpired in the world of wireless communications. These technologies have become a non-negotiable and its associated benefits have been embraced by manufacturers the world over as they work to modernise and simplify their factories.


For many businesses, both locally and abroad, smart factories have brought renewed focus to industrial networking capabilities. Newer communication protocols and technologies such as EtherNet/IP™, RFID and Bluetooth are certainly making their presence known on the factory floor.


In the past, many companies were subject to trailing communications cables that proved problematic for two reasons: 1) cables were often damaged or disconnected during operations. 2) this led to more maintenance costs and higher operating expenditure (OPEX). Making wireless technologies an attractive alternative.


The EXW1 unpacked 


SMC Corporation recently launched the EXW1 Compact Type series, a compact and lightweight wireless communication module for use on a robot or moving fixture. “APPEX 2024 is the ideal platform to showcase the latest edition to our wireless portfolio,” comments Jozef Ceh, Group Manager ANZ for integrated solutions. “This comes as the first new addition since the EX600-W (Wireless), which has enjoyed resounding success in the local market.”


Pointing to the key differences between the EX600-W and the EXW1, Jozef notes that the EX600-W is modular, while the EXW1 is a Compact-Type Wireless System. “Advancements in wireless technologies by SMC means that the EXW1 now offers around 86% volume reduction and 87% weight reduction.”


The IP67 rated EXW1 series makes use of 2.4 GHz ISM frequency band and offers frequency hopping every 2 milliseconds. It supports a faster wireless communication of up to 1 Mbps and an external antenna allows for easy installation within metal shielded locations and locations with an obstructed line of sight. “Introducing wireless communications eliminates the high costs associated with traditional network infrastructure and the cumbersome commissioning process.  Other than the immediate efficiencies gained through the physical layer, the functional upside is a wireless ecosystem that is futureproof, easy to expand and no additional IP addresses are required,” says Jozef.


“The EXW1 Wireless Base Modules is compatible with CC-Link and EtherCAT® protocols and the EtherNET IP Wireless Base is not far from release. The series offers a reach of 100 meters (when used with a remote unit) and is also compatible with  the EX600-W (Wireless).”


Jozef does believe that while the additional upgrades to the new EXW1 Compact Modules are  welcomed, the brand-new Remote Wireless IO-LINK Master Remote module will certainly redefine connectivity moving forward. “It integrates all the standard features and benefits of IO-Link into a wireless network, while offering both Class A and Class B port specification - making this product a game changer.”


He adds that the EX600-W (Wireless) still holds its place in the range. “The EX600-W can manage up to 1280 outputs and 1280 inputs. This decentralised wireless fieldbus system bypasses the need for network cables and is easy to integrate into existing setups.”


The base unit is connected to a standard industrial Ethernet connection such as Ethernet/IP™ or PROFINET®. The base can wirelessly communicate and control up to 127 remote units in a range of up to 10 meters. “The EX600-W is frequently found in an array of applications and sectors – from food and beverage to packaging, and more.”


SMC’s Air Management System as the cherry on top


SMC’s new-generation Air Management System (AMS) is the perfect accompaniment to a wireless fieldbus system. “This series monitors when production stops and automatically decreases the pressure - reducing power consumption. It’s compatible with our wireless systems fieldbus systems and  comes standard with one  IO-Link master port on all AMS modules.” 


To conclude, Jozef says that in today’s modern manufacturing era, incorporating wireless technologies just makes sense. “Wireless offers a simple and elegant solution. Where possible, look to replace legacy systems with wireless alternatives to save you on time and costs in the long run.”


Check out the EXW1 at APPEX 2024 from 12 to 15 March – stand E121.

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