Automated material handling and storage systems, for medical laboratories, are
now available to do just that. They contain trays for storing chemicals and test materials in inert, temperature-controlled
environments, and handling systems for moving the trays to test areas where materials can be mixed automatically. The resulting
mix is placed in test tubes or plates and are then either stored in the same system or transfered out of it.
At the heart of such systems is (1) a database that knows where the materials are stored and keeps a history of each individual test tube or plate, and (2) a computer that controls all activities and movements.
TekCel's ApproachTekCel's approach is to build individual storage, transfer, and mixing modules
that can be assembled and disassembled as easily as building blocks. Each storage module contains its own database so that
the overall system, when assembled, knows what's inside each and every tube or plate within the system.
TekCel's Tube Management System is a fully automated, integrated and environmentally controlled platform for flexible format tube storage, retrieval
and processing. The system provides unparalleled flexibility in tube format, storage capacity and throughput.
At the core of the Tube Management System is the TubeStore module. Each self-contained module is
equipped to pick and compile individual 2-D barcoded tubes, or 96-tube racks, within an inert, temperature controlled environment.
The modular design of the TubeStore allows the capacity of the Tube Management System to be expanded by combining multiple TubeStore modules.
For more information about TekCel's line of products, see www.tekcel.com.
The ChallengeDistribute motor
controls in a limited amount of space and in a low temperature environment.
- tight space limitations
- provide power for linear and rotary motors
- control by self-contained programs (position mode)
- connectivity via CANopen
TekCel and Elmo's Solution
TekCel adopted a Windows PC-based
control architecture, which offers many advantages, but lacks
real-time control. Because Elmos Harmonica can execute
an internal script, it can coordinate servo motors, sensors
and pneumatics into an autonomous sequence of events. Multiple
scripts can be retained in on-board fl ash memory and, after
initiation, no further support is required from the PC.
and servo positions were polled by the PC and servo/output commands
issued. The embedded script eliminated delays due to latency
and improved throughput by approximately 30%. In this application
multiple Harmonicas are configured as a group
and their application-specific scripts initiated via a single
PC command, enabling multiple servos to work together on real-time
TekCel utilized a proprietary distributed servo controller that utilized a multi-drop RS485 network. The Harmonica provided
a similar package size with more current capability, more robust CAN communication, wide operating temperature range and similar
cable management. Expanded I/O and advanced servo tuning were other factors that made the switch to the Harmonica the logical
The Harmonica digital sevo drive was designed into two major components: the storage system
and the plate management unit.