Using sensor data for smart robotics solutions


Waldkirch/Düsseldorf, November 2022 – Safe Robotics, Robot Vision, Position Feedback, End-of-Arm Tooling – at the SPS 2022 trade fair in Nuremberg (November 8–10, 2022) SICK will underscore (Hall 7A, Booth 340) its commitment to being the leading supplier of sensors and complete services for smart and future-proof robotics. 

More automation and more digitalization are the key to more process efficiency – including and especially in robotics. The challenges are generally complex – they can however be mastered and controlled by collecting, interpreting, applying. and visualizing sensor data. “We Create Digital Transformation” is the catchphrase at SICK – the company’s sensors and sensor systems deliver the necessary information for smart and digitalized robotics applications such as movement protection and visual guidance of robots, position determination, and sensitive monitoring of grippers.

Safe human-robot interaction through adaptive sensor perception

The sBot Speed Safe Robotics system from SICK is an integration-friendly solution for the performance-optimized protection of robotics applications. The complete system comprises a safety laser scanner and a Flexi Soft safety controller. It is available in variants for integration into the eco-systems of the robot manufacturers Universal Robots, KUKA, FANUC and Yaskawa and comes not only with pre-configured and tested automation and safety functions but also a complete wiring diagram. This ensures easy and problem-free system integration into the relevant robot controller. The special feature of sBot Speed is its adaptive environmental perception. This allows unhindered and safe interventions in the robot system at any time by humans. The further a person moves into the working range of the robot, the slower the robot becomes – until it finally comes to a complete stop. Once the person exits the protective and warning field, the robot starts up again automatically - initially at a safely-reduced speed until it is able to return to its original working speed. The ability to automatically adjust the operating conditions of the robot based on the location of persons in its surroundings avoids the risk of accidents occurring while at the same time improving productivity by reducing downtimes and optimizing work processes. 

2D visual guidance for static and dynamic robot applications

The PLOC2D sensor system from SICK is used for automated 2D object localization on conveyor systems. By tracking the conveyor, it is also possible to detect moving parts on a conveyor belt and provide the robot with relevant dynamic approach and access coordinates. The scope of the system includes a high-performance 2D camera with integrated illumination unit as well as sensor software featuring an intelligent localization algorithm and integrated motion synchronization. PLOC2D – which can localize more than 120 parts per minute – has been designed for integration into numerous makes of robots and their controllers. It impresses – among other things thanks to its web-based user interface and user-friendly “easy-teach” teach-in method for different parts – with its exceptionally short setup times. 

Motor feedback with sHub for robots: Speed and position measurement with condition monitoring functionality

SICK’s motor feedback systems in servo drives deliver highly accurate measured values and data on the linear and rotational positions of robot axes in 3-dimensional space. In addition to their function of giving the robot a “spatial sense”, these feedback systems with sHub – the sensor hub for intelligent servo motors – become a real-time data source for condition monitoring. The space-saving module extends the motor feedback system to include additional sensors for measuring vibration and temperature. The two measurands deliver decisive data for the detection of early damage. Using one cable technology, not only the process data of the motor but also condition and servicing-related data are transmitted via the purely digital  HIPERFACE DSL motor feedback protocol to the higher level motion control system of the robot. In this way, for example, information on the level of vibrations can give an indication of when bearing damage might occur, when parts need to be replaced and, more generally, when the next maintenance of the robot and its servo drive technology is due. Since the monitoring occurs in real time, it is possible for the maintenance personnel to respond in a timely manner and intervene in the machine processes. sHub thereby increases the efficiency and reliability of machines as it enables unplanned downtimes to be effectively prevented. Since the communication interface of sHub meets safety integrity level SIL3 requirements, it is also possible to implement a safety or Safe Motion Monitoring and Control application when using the sHub in conjunction with the EDS/EDM35 safe motor feedback system.

Smart position sensor: Fingertip precision for grippers

Differentiating between objects of different sizes and gripping them safely – the smart MPS-G position sensor for grippers and miniature cylinders from SICK offers this flexibility. Its displacement measuring system continuously, directly and contactlessly detects and digitalizes the gripping and stroke paths and the position of the fingers of pneumatic grippers, or the piston position in short stroke cylinders. The sensor is therefore ideally prepared for the challenges of batch size 1 manufacturing as it makes form-fitting gripping of arbitrarily changing objects of different sizes and geometric shapes by robots possible – i.e. part handling with fingertip precision. At the same time, the actuator diagnostics of the MPS-G supports condition monitoring of robots. The sensor is able, during the gripping and handling processes, to monitor vibration and shocks as well as detect any temperature changes that would indicate wear and tear or a reduction in gripping strength. By intelligently integrating the sensor, the generated data can be made available to higher level systems – a PLC, an MES/ERP system, or a cloud application. In this way, the actuator diagnostics data can be utilized for condition monitoring. and help avoid machine downtimes and increase the transparency of machine processes.

Robot standstill: App allows immediate troubleshooting

When a robot stops or a fault-related failure arises in a cobot for an unknown reason – locating the cause and troubleshooting can be very costly in terms of time, production downtimes, and money. That is why the SARA (SICK Augmented Reality App) is increasingly often being employed in these cases. This app for smartphones and tablets with the iOS or Android operating system makes it possible to investigate the cause of a fault directly on-site via smartphone or tablet. The wireless diagnostic system uses augmented reality to overlay the sensor’s view with its actual surroundings, and visualizes the error directly on the end device. Other sensor data that are relevant for troubleshooting can also be displayed, for example the device ID, status, temperature, degree of contamination, or operating hours. In this way the smart visualization of SARA helps find and eliminate the causes of stops quickly and without having to wait for experts. This speeds up recommissioning and minimizes the downtimes of robots.

SICK sensor solutions for “Robotics 4.0”

Industrial robotics is one of the crucial enabling technologies for the future-proof automation concepts of tomorrow. From coexistence, cooperation right through to collaboration – humans and robots are moving closer and closer together as “colleagues” in various work scenarios. SICK offers suitable solutions for all the challenges in robotics: Safe Robotics, Robot Vision, Position Feedback and End-of-Arm Tooling.

Safe Robotics from SICK stands for solutions that turn the critical zone close to the robot into a safe workspace. The adaptive environmental perception makes unimpaired and safe human intervention in the robot’s working area possible – allowing people to work closely alongside robots and keeping them safe in the process.

The optical and image-based systems in the Robot Vision portfolio are the eyes of the robot. They enable it to be guided visually in 2D and 3D – and are the prerequisite for flexible and productive automation solutions.

 Position feedback solutions from SICK create the sensory foundation for all robot movements. The motor feedback systems integrated into the drives act as smart motor sensors and deliver data on the speed and position as well as condition of a drive. 

With its End-of-Arm Tooling portfolio, SICK offers sophisticated, intelligent sensor solutions for grippers, robot tools, and feed systems. They give the robot a high level of sensitivity thereby enabling them to work with fingertip precision. 

SICK is one of the world’s leading solutions providers for sensor-based applications in the industrial sector. Founded in 1946 by Dr.-Ing. e. h. Erwin Sick, the company with headquarters in Waldkirch im Breisgau near Freiburg ranks among the technological market leaders. With more than 50 subsidiaries and equity investments as well as numerous agencies, SICK maintains a presence around the globe. In the 2021 fiscal year, SICK had more than 11,000 employees worldwide and a group revenue of around EUR 2 billion. Additional information about SICK is available on the Internet at or by phone on +49 (0)7681202-4183.



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