Forge/OS 5.0 makes a major shift toward scalability and is optimized to control a broad array of devices from different manufacturers. Forge/OS 5.0 releases with five standard applications, each with a unique purpose, including interacting with Forge/OS (Home), setting up devices (Device Configuration), controlling devices manually (Device Control), programming tasks (Task Canvas), and customizing Forge 5.0’s settings (System Settings).
Changes from 3.1:
There are many changes from Forge/OS 3.x. Here are some major updates worth highlighting:
- Application interface: much like mobile operating systems, Forge 5.0 has “apps,” each with a dedicated purpose.
- In future versions, developers will be able to create their own applications to run on Forge/OS, using the Forge SDK
- The KEBA pendant: the human-machine interface (HMI) for Forge 5.0 is a handheld pendant made by KEBA. It includes a built-in device enabling switch, emergency stop button, mode key, and buttons for jogging a robot.
There are two accounts on the Forge system. Admin has full access; Operator has limited access to manually control devices and execute programmed tasks.
Home is the application launchpad. You can access the Home screen by pressing the App button in the bottom left. The toolbar across the bottom shows the common apps, the device status panel, the current user, and the notifications panel.
The device status panel shows the current status and mode controls for all enabled devices. The mode readout on the button is a rolled-up status of all devices based on priority. For example, if one device is in error but all others are healthy, the button will show that there is an error.
For collaborative robots, the Reset button and mode switch buttons, Teach, Hand Guide, and Run, appear in the device status panel. For non-collaborative robots, the Teach and Run mode switch is the key on top of the KEBA pendant.
Changes from 3.1:
- multi-robot support: you can control more than one robot on a single Forge system, even if they’re from different manufacturers. You can even use Forge/OS 5.0 without any robot at all.
- devices enabled by default: you no longer need to configure the devices when turning on Forge. Whatever devices were configured and enabled when you last powered off the system will remain enabled until you change them.
- new robot OEMs and fieldbus devices: there are several new robots brands and fieldbus protocols available in 5.0. See the full list for more information
- devices own their modes: in 3.1, the “current mode” of Forge/OS was determined by the configured robot. In 5.0, each device has its own mode and Forge/OS is independent of them.
The Device Configuration application is where users create and customize devices. Any physical device expected to work with the Forge system must be set up here, including robots, grippers, and fieldbus devices.
Setting up a device in Device Configuration creates controls for that device in other applications, such as robot motion commands in Device Control and gripper open/close blocks in Task Canvas.
For robots, you can set up the device name, IP address, and robot type. You can also name input/output (I/O) ports, select which are visible in the Device Control application, and create Tool Center Points (TCPs) and Payloads.
For grippers, you can set up the device name and the associated I/O ports that control the states of the gripper. Different gripper types have different options, for example, a clamping gripper has an open, closed, and relaxed state, as well as the option to configure input signals for part detection.
For Fieldbus devices, you can set up the device name, IP address, and the names of all I/O ports.
On the application landing screen, you can enable and disable devices. Enabled devices appear in the device status panel, Device Control application, and are automatically added to new Task Canvas tasks. Disabled devices are still part of the Forge system, but their controls are hidden in other applications.
Forge remembers which devices are enabled when the system is shut down and restarted. Forge will automatically connect to and enable the controls for devices that are enabled when the system boots.
Changes from 3.1:
- All in one place: all devices are controlled from the same application and are separated by a dropdown at the top.
The Device Control application manually controls all enabled devices. The dropdown at the top of the application lists the devices you can control.
For robots, the available controls are Jog, Jump, Absolute Position, and I/O Signal control. You can also change the active TCP and Payload. You can snap the robot’s TCP axes to the Base frame and custom frames from the Jump and Absolute Position controls. The speed slider controls the selected robot; on multi-robot systems, each robot has its own speed slider.
For grippers and other actuated devices, such as pedals or button pressers, there are buttons for simple controls, like “open gripper” and “press pedal”.
For communication devices, such as PLCs, there are fields or buttons for changing and reading signal states. Signals show up as the custom name given to them in Device Configuration
Changes from 3.1:
- Blocks organized by device: the block menu is organized by device. Each device’s blocks can use parameters from that device, such as waypoints or I/O signals
- Canvas navigation: the minimap is gone and you can now zoom the canvas to 5 preset zoom levels. There is also a search button for searching blocks and their internal parameters, such as waypoints
- Subtasks++: containers are gone. Subtasks can be called parallel or inline, with the latter working just like containers did in 3.1.
- Global waypoints: waypoints and frames are local to the task in which they were created, but both can be “promoted” to global, making them accessible in other tasks and applications
Task Canvas is where tasks are programmed using native Task Canvas blocks. Task canvas supports simultaneous and inline subtasks, and all devices are available to program in all subtasks.
Task Canvas has three parameters that a user can program and manipulate: waypoints, frames, and variables. Waypoints and Frames belong to robots and define where a robot moves. Both parameters are local to the task in which they were created, but can be made global, making them accessible to other applications. Variables belong to the task and come in four types: Float, Integer, Boolean, and String. Waypoints, frames, and variables all have parameter managers accessible from the Data menu.
Blocks are assembled on the canvas in a flowchart using pathways to determine what order blocks are executed. Blocks on the canvas display what device they belong to, what block type they are, what parameters they’re using, and any special modifiers to their behavior, such as whether they use a force sensor or are set to only run once. You can rename blocks, set their current state to resume execution, and skip blocks.
Canvas navigation includes the ability to zoom out on the canvas and jump to the Start block or the block that was last executing. There is also a Search feature that highlights blocks based on their block type, custom name device, or any parameters used inside the block, such as waypoints and variables.
The Runtime controls menu lets you execute tasks from the beginning (Start Task), from a selected block (Start From Selected), or one block at a time (Step). Also within the menu. Follow Graph centers the view on the current block and the speed slider scales all speed across all devices within an executing task.
You can put “tags” on task files, which are searchable labels that are displayed on the Load Task screen and Task Settings.
System settings lets you configure some basic settings on their Forge system. The following settings are available in 5.0:
- set date/time/time zone
- update system via USB
- change administrator password
- view system info, such as software and driver version
- enable SSH login on local network
Forge 5.0 runs on an industrial PC (IPC) attached to a KEBA pendant, which is the primary interface for interacting with the operating system. The pendant has a touch screen with a 1280×800 resolution in the portrait orientation.
Based on your devices, the pendant can be wired to serve as the enabling (3-position) switch, mode key (Teach <> Run), and emergency stop button for devices that need them.
The KEBApendant has buttons to the right of the screen that enable basic controls for robots and tasks. The +/- and arrow up/down buttons are jog and speed controls. They will execute the commands for the robot which you last viewed on the Device Control application.
The Start, Stop, and Step button work on blocks in the Task Canvas. The Reset button sends a Reset command to all enabled devices.
Swipe in from the right edge of the screen toward the center to open the KEBA button label panel.