Frequently Asked Questions about MLX

General

What is MLX200?

The MLX200 is a PLC based robot controller for Yaskawa Motoman industrial robot arms. With MLX200, all robot programming, configuration, maintenance, and troubleshooting is done using Rockwell Automation PLC’s and the associated software provided by Rockwell Automation.

With MLX200, robots are programmed through intuitive Add-On-Instructions (AOIs) within RSLogix™ / Studio 5000™ Logix Designer environment. Optimum performance is maintained using proven kinematics solutions. A wide range of 4- to 6-axes robots with payloads from 5-300 kilograms are available on this platform.

MLX200 is the second generation PLC robot controller from Yaskawa. The previous generation was MLX100.

What applications is MLX200 suited for?

MLX is ideal for handling and assembly applications ranging from 5 kg payload to 300 kg.  Within handling, MLX has specific application toolkits for palletizing, case packing, and picking applications.

What improvements does MLX200 provide over MLX100?


MLX200 is the next generation of Yaskawa Motoman’s PLC based robot controller and offers many new features and enhanced capabilities as compared with MLX100. These include:
Support for CompactLogix PLCs as well as ControlLogix
  • Reduced PLC requirements (approx. 50% CPU Load and Memory usage from MLX100 for similar application functionality)
  • Expanded list of supported robots
  • Improved robot performance for faster cycle times
  • Enhanced Conveyor Tracking functionality for Pattern-based Distribution and Dynamic Load Balancing
  • Many minor features and usability improvements

Compatibility

What Yaskawa Robot Models are available with MLX200?

The following robot models are available with MLX200:

What do I do if a robot model that suits my application needs is not currently available with MLX200?

Please contact Sales if you are interested in a robot model that is not listed above.

How many robots can be controlled from a single PLC with MLX200?

One MLX200 control unit connected to a single PLC can control up the 2 robots.  If more than 2 robots are required, then the following non-standard options are available :

  • An MLX200 control unit is capable of controlling 16 coordinated axes. As such, it can be configured to control four, 4-axis robot arms while it is connected to a single PLC.
  • Multiple MLX200 control unit’s can be connected to a single PLC, with each control unit controlling 2 robots.  Adding additional MLX200 control units will consume additional Ethernet/IP bandwidth and the application may require additional Ethernet/IP cards added to the PLC.

What PLC's are MLX200 compatible with and what are the detailed specifications of each of these?

MLX is compatible with Rockwell Automation ControlLogix, CompactLogix and SoftLogix PAC’s. In general, MLX200 requires that the PLC have Ethernet/IP and a minimum of 2MB memory.  Specific models of PAC’s and their compatibility with MLX200 is listed below:

Rockwell PAC Model MLX Support Notes
Bulletin 1769 CompactLogix 5370 Controller – L1 No 512KB memory is not sufficient for MLX200.
Bulletin 1769 CompactLogix 5370 Controller – L2 No 1MB memory is not sufficient for MLX200. In very small applications, this can potentially work.
Bulletin 1769 CompactLogix 5370 Controller – L3x Yes Controller should have a minimum of 2 MB memory.
Bulletin 1768 CompactLogix Controller – L43 Yes Ethernet/IP module will be required for MLX200 to function.
Bulletin 1768 Compact GuardLogix Safety Controller – L43S Yes Ethernet/IP module will be required for MLX200 to function.
Bulletin 1768 CompactLogix Controller – L45 Yes Ethernet/IP module will be required for MLX200 to function.
Bulletin 1768 Compact GuardLogix Safety Controller – L45S Yes Ethernet/IP module will be required for MLX200 to function.
Bulletin 1769 CompactLogix Controllers – L23x No 512KB memory is not sufficient for MLX200.
Bulletin 1769 CompactLogix Controllers – L3x Yes Ethernet/IP module will be required for MLX200 to function.
Bulletin 1756 ControlLogix 5560 Controllers (L6x) Yes L61 models may need additional memory based on specific application
Bulletin 1756 ControlLogix 5570 Controllers (L7x) Yes L71 models may need additional memory based on specific application
Bulletin 1756 GuardLogix Controllers (L6xS) Yes L61S models may need additional memory based on specific application
Bulletin 1756 GuardLogix Controllers (L7xS) Yes L71S models may need additional memory based on specific application
1789 SoftLogix Controller Yes

Are any other brands of PLCs supported??

At present MLX200 is available only on Rockwell platform.  In special cases MLX200 can be made available for non Rockwell PLC platforms based on volume or business justification.

Do I need to buy a Rockwell PLC with Rockwell Motion support for MLX200?

No, the Rockwell PLC/PAC that you use with MLX200 does not require any motion control capability.

Components

What are the components of a MLX200 system?

  • Robot arm
  • MLX200 drives panel with MLX200 Control unit
  • Robot to panel cables (selectable lengths),
  • MLX200 Manual
  • MLX200 Software that Includes:
    • MLX200 Add On Instruction Library for RSLogix 5000 Version 19 and above
    • MLX200 Standard HMI for PanelView (Locked .MER file)
  • A Portable Teach Pendant is an OPTIONAL component.
  • Development version of MLX200 HMI (Unlocked .APA file for FTView Studio) is an OPTIONAL component.

What has to be provided by an MLX customer in order to use MLX?

  • RSLogix5000 Version 19 or newer software.
  • Panelview HMI for deploying MLX200 HMI.
  • FTView Studio 6.1 or newer for editing optional MLX200 HMI that is provided as an .APA file.
  • A Rockwell Automation PLC that is compatible with MLX200.

What tools are provided for teaching the robot with MLX200?

MLX dramatically simplifies the teaching of a robot, with all robot teaching logic and the teach points implemented on the PLC in RSLogix 5000 and FTview HMI.  Basic MLX software provided by Yaskawa includes FTView HMI screens that allow the customer to jog the robot to a given position (world, axis, or user coordinates) and then teach that position. The teach position is saved as a tag on the PLC and an application written using the MLX AOI’s can use this teach position as a parameter to any of the MLX Move instructions.  If a customer requires a portable HMI for teaching, a robot safety standard compatible teach pendant is available as an option. This teach pendant has HMI screens similar to the FTView MLX HMI.  This teach pendant also communicates directly with the Rockwell PLC and reads/writes tags directly to the PLC.

In addition to the jogging and teaching screens included in the MLX HMI, there are additional screens that support the following capability:

  • Tool setup
  • User frame setup
  • Interference zone setup (axis and TCP)

Is there a portable teach pendant available with MLX200?

MLX200 software includes a Add On Instruction (AOI) library for RSLogix5000 and a set of FTView HMI screens for robot configuration, jogging, teaching, interference zone setup, tool setup, etc.  These screens can be deployed on any PanelView hardware provided by Rockwell Automation.  A subset of the MLX HMI screens are also available packaged with a portable teach pendant that conforms with robot safety standards.  This MLX teach pendant is an optional item. It should be noted that the MLX HMI screens that are developed for the portable teach pendant are not  developed using FTView studio and are developed using proprietary software from the pendant hardware provider.

General Technical

How does MLX 200 robot cycle time compare with DX100/200 cycle times?

As MLX200 and DX100/200  are completely different control architectures, the time for a given motion between the two systems will not exactly be the same.  In some instances, MLX200 is faster and in other instances DX100/200 will be faster.  On average, with the release of Version 1.2 software for MLX200, the cycle times for a typical application are comparable between MLX200 and DX100/200.

How do I control auxiliary axes from MLX200?

Auxiliary axes are controlled directly from the PLC using Rockwell Automation’s motion control instructions and Kinetix hardware. MLX200 also provides an optional capability for auxiliary axes control that is limited to servo control of the end-effect and a linear track on which the robot is mounted.

What about Safety on MLX200? Is FSU available on MLX200?

MLX200 complies with ANSI/RIA safety standards for robot safety. The drives panel has safety relays for E-stop, Gate safety and drives enabling switches similar to DX100 or FS100 controllers.  Regarding functional safety requirements, MLX200 offers limited functional safety functionality that is listed below:

  • Safe Torque Off
  • [OPTIONA] Safety Limited Axis Speed
  • [OPTIONAL] Category 2 Stop (safety rated hold)

Other functional safety capabilities such as the ones listed below are not available on MLX200.  If a customer application needs these, they should use DX200 controller:

  • Safety Limited Axis Position
  • Safety Limited TCP Position
  • Safety Limited TCP Speed
  • Safety Limited Contact Force

Machine safety for MLX200 is provided by the PLC. Customers are free to use GuardLogix to implement a networked safety solution with safe IO from Rockwell Automation. As mentioned before, MLX200 control panel provided by Yaskawa is equipped safety relays for E-stop, Gate safety and drives enabling switches.  A qualified customer can substitute the safety relay with GuardLogix if their application desires.

Is dual robot configuration for MLX200 similar in nature to DX100 Dual robot controller?


In MLX200 the control module provides control for two kinematically linked arms but the motion between the arms is not coordinated as in case of DX100 where the robots are in master/slave configuration. Also, if MLX200 is configured as a 2 robot system, the safety circuits for the two arms are interconnected. That is, an emergency stop on MLX200 will affect both arms. Similarly, if the optional teach pendant is connected, the 3-way enabling switch (deadman) will affect both arms.  Putting MLX200 in to Manual (Teach) mode will put both arms in to Manual mode.

Conveyor Tracking

Is Conveyor Tracking supported on MLX200?


Yes, MLX200 supports conveyor tracking. All conveyor tracking configuration, hardware, and programming is done on the PLC platform, thus removing the need for any hardware or special purpose software that typically accompanies the robot arm when using a traditional controller.. A listing of the conveyor tracking AOI’s and FTView HMI screen for conveyor tracking setup is shown below:
Add On Instruction Brief Description
MLxRobotConveyorSyncStart Makes the robot start tracking a particular conveyor.
MLxRobotConveyorSyncStop Makes the robot stop tracking a particular conveyor.
MLxRobotConveyorSyncStopWithAxisMotion Makes the robot stop tracking a conveyor while blending in to a point to point motion to a target position.
MLxRobotConveyorSyncStopWithLinearMotion Makes the robot stop tracking a conveyor while blending in to a linear (straight line) motion to a target position.
MLX Conveyor Tracking Setup Screen

MLX Conveyor Tracking Setup Screen

What additional hardware/software components are required to use Conveyor Tracking?


MLX200 contains a number of tags that can be aliased to conveyor data such as Current Position, Latched Position, etc… This allows for many different potential hardware configurations. If the conveyor is controlled by Rockwell motion, then the conveyor position is already available in the PLC and can be linked directly to these tags. If the conveyor position is not available, an encoder such as an Allen Bradley 845H can be mounted to the conveyor. The signal from the encoder can be wired into a 1756-HSC (ControlLogix) or 1769-HSC (CompactLogix) High-Speed Counter Module. In addition to these two scenarios, conveyor tracking can also be accomplished by creating a virtual axis in RSLogix 5000.

How many conveyors can a robot controlled by MLX200 track?


The RSLogix 5000 AOI’s and tag structure provided by MLX allows the setup of 4 conveyors. A robot can track any of these conveyors.

How many robots can be made to track a single conveyor? How is the workload of each robot defined in MLX200?


If MLX is configured for multiple robots, then all the robots can be made to track a single conveyor. In this case, each robot is assigned a queue (tag in RSLogix) in which the position of the tracked parts is inserted. Each robot acts on picking the objects that are inserted in to its queue. The default logic for object being assigned to a robot is that the first object gets assigned to the first robot, the second to the second robot, the third to third and so forth. As a user, you have full access to configure the queuing pattern between the robots as well as the ability to move objects from one robot queue to another. For example, if the first robot fails to pick up an object, the object can be moved from the first robot’s queue to the queue of the second robot. This flexibility in programming allows the user to create specialized line balancing schemes simply by programming them in RSLogix 5000.

What is the maximum speed of the conveyor that an MLX200 robot can track?


There is no theoretical limit to conveyor speed. However, a robot’s picking repeatability will decrease with increasing conveyor speed. MLX has been tested with conveyors running up to 1 meter/second.

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