Experts in Man & Machine
Innovation 20.02.2018

uniVAL plc

A robot driven by a PLC? Now it’s possible


Stäubli’s uniVAL solutions now include uniVAL drive and the new uniVAL plc. The uniVAL plc is a highly innovative solution that makes it possible to program Stäubli industrial robots using an industrial PLC (or equivalent) connected to the robot’s controller via a fieldbus. Designed for integrators, uniVAL plc features a library of function blocks to:

Reduce programming time
Centralize the human-machine interface in one location

The uniVAL plc solution developed by Stäubli is truly groundbreaking because it allows customers to drive their industrial robots with numerical controls using a PLC. In addition to saving you time on programming and centralizing the human-machine interface, uniVAL plc also lets you drive operations and motions of both the robotic arm and the production line by syncing the robot with the machine’s motion.

Up until recently, Stäubli robots were controlled via external equipment using the uniVAL solution, now redubbed the uniVAL drive. The solution delivers unparalleled performance in terms of robot control but requires the use of an external trajectory generator (e.g., numerical control) and real-time communication with the robot controller.

To enhance its uniVAL drive offering, Stäubli developed uniVAL plc. This new solution makes it possible to program Stäubli industrial robots using an industrial PLC connected to the robot’s controller via a fieldbus. « By driving the robotic arms with a PLC using the function blocks, you can centralize the programming of an automated production line », explains Christophe Currivand, from the R&D Software Interface team.

Designed for integrators, uniVAL plc is used to program robots from a PLC

Today, « what makes Stäubli’s uniVAL plc solution so groundbreaking is that it lets customers program the robot directly in the PLC manufacturer’s development environment », stresses Christophe Currivand.

For many robotic applications, users are looking for a solution that lets them program their robots with tools they already know how to use. The uniVAL plc solution does just that.

Stäubli’s uniVAL plc is designed mainly for integrators who know how to program PLCs. This solution has two software components:

  • A server software installed on the robot controller
  • A client component: a library of function blocks integrated into the PLC supplier’s development environment

From there, the function blocks make it possible to control the robot, covering everything from powering on to motion control, gripper control, offset and much more.

The uniVAL plc solution significantly reduces programming time: no more need to develop code to manage communication between the PLC and the robot. Once the function block library is installed in the PLC, the robot is moving within minutes.

Centralized human-machine interface

« Another advantage of the uniVAL plc is that it centralizes the human-machine interface in the same location » adds Christophe Currivand.

New functionalities are being introduced such as conveyor belt tracking and Stäubli’s uniVAL plc solution is now ready for full-fledged release.

uniVAL plc

uniVAL solutions:

  • UniVAL drive: Real-time communication between the numerical controls and the robot controller. The robotic arm’s performance depends on the programming performance of the numerical controls.
  • UniVAL plc: Communication (via a standard fieldbus) between the PLC and the robot, with the CS8 or CS9 controller. Communication is based on simple, easy-to-access inputs/outputs.


Benefits of uniVAL plc:

  • Reduced development and training costs
  • Reduced commissioning costs
  • Motion trajectories stored on the PLC side
  • Standardization over the entire production line
  • Open, scalable system

Availaible for :

  • Beckhoff Twincat
  • Siemens Simatic
  • Rockwell Logix
  • Codesys
  • Etc.

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