Design & Automation Solutions Delivers XYZ Gantry System

A globally recognised brand recently asked Design & Automation Solutions to provide a high-performance powered gantry system capable of automatically tracking the position of a moving robot within a 9m x 6m x 2.5m volume. The gantry was also required to provide an 80kg winch function.

Due to severe access restrictions, the system could not comprise of any sections greater than three metres in length.

After reviewing a number of linear slide systems, the Hepco HDS2 gantry range was selected due to its agility – it can be supplied with a rack and pinion drive system, which allowed the gantry to be split into a number of smaller sections for ease of access to and re-assembly on the client’s site. In addition, this system delivered the advantage of offering Design & Automation Solutions (DAS) a full trial R&D function as they could assemble part of the system on their own site for testing and approval prior to delivery.

The rack and pinion solution also allowed an additional Y-axis to be added at a later stage, without significant modification to the existing equipment. This was a key requirement for the client.

Two drive motors were utilised on the X-axis, one on each side in master/slave mode, rather than a cross shaft. This enabled DAS to keep the system compact and easier to fit within the restricted height available.

An 80kg capacity winch was fitted to provide the Z-axis, which also had power and data available to a tether. A load cell was fitted to the winch to monitor the load applied and limit the speeds when used for lifting. Servo motors with brakes were fitted to power all three axes with suitable drives mounted in a free-standing enclosure, along with a master PLC and HMI and other control components.

The gantry has three modes of operation. In its simplest form, it can be used as an ‘overhead crane’ where it is jogged to position with the wireless pendant controller or directly from the HMI. Positional control is also available from the HMI by directly inputting XYZ coordinates and pressing the start button to activate the moves.

However, the main mode of operation is remote, where a high-level motion PC is used to continually stream positional and speed data to the PLC.

This gantry is capable of speeds up to 2m/second in X & Y and 0.5m/second in Z. However, the system is only intended to operate at lower speeds when carrying the maximum payload for safety reasons.

Features & scope of supply

  • Hepco HDS2 XY rack and pinion driven gantry system mounted on six support legs
  • 80kg capacity wire rope winch with load cell feedback to provide a flexible Z-axis
  • SEW servo motors c/w safety brakes & drives for X, Y and Z axes
  • Additional MAYR safety brake for winch
  • IGUS cable track and flexible cables to all moving parts
  • 240VAC, 24VDC, and Cat 6 Ethernet to the tether
  • Overtravel and reference switches as required
  • Light guards and emergency stop pushbuttons for operator safety
  • Wireless pendant control for manual gantry operation
  • Siemens PLC-based control system with Beijers X2 Pro HMI for data entry/display
  • IXON Ethernet hub for programming, remote access and data transfer
  • Positional data sent from an external PC to the PLC via ModBus TCP/IP

Mick Stallwood, Managing Director of Design & Automation Solutions, concludes:

This project started over two years ago and despite the pandemic, we all carried on with our development programmes so that the client’s timelines weren’t affectedI would like to thank all of our valued suppliers who helped make this project possible, particularly Cepha Controls, Hepco Motion, SEW Eurodrive and Blackmores Machinery Haulage, who were all influential in the success of delivery.

The client is still very much part of our monitoring and service programme as the contract included a five-year service level agreement. We can’t walk away. We want to secure the long-term life of significant investments such as this so that they excel, operate efficiently and so that the client knows we’re with them every step of the way.”

If you are interested in a bespoke gantry system, please visit or use the contact details below to get in touch with the team at DAS.

Design & Automation Solutions
01844 355591

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