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  • Writer's pictureJeff Johnson

The Revolutionary Benefits of XTS – Linear Transport, Part 1

The modular linear transport system from Beckhoff enables footprint reductions up to 50% and changeovers on the fly

Beckhoff XTS for industrial automation

The space-saving capabilities of the eXtended Transport System (XTS) from Beckhoff come from the system’s extreme flexibility and modularity. XTS doesn’t simply offer a high-tech replacement for rotary index tables or conveying systems; it provides an opportunity for mechanical and controls engineers to fundamentally rethink product transport in their machine designs. The benefits of linear and continuous rotary motion, along with asynchronous movement of multiple movers, are available at the same time in the mechatronic system.

The system moves passive, wireless movers with high accuracy and dynamics using customizable rails and motor modules, with options for straight segments as well as +/-22.5, 45 and 180-degree modules. This leads to nearly unlimited geometries, including circles, ovals and S-curves, with movers traveling along the outside or inside of a track, depending on the design and requirements. Perhaps most importantly, XTS can be installed horizontally, vertically or at angles, increasing potential space savings through greater flexibility.

Beyond greater system flexibility, implementing XTS leads to fewer components on the machine and in electrical cabinets. As engineers rethink machine designs, they should be able to eliminate chain drives, actuators, rotary index tables and other expensive and space-consuming components that were previously necessary to accomplish these applications.

The XTS mechanical components and motor modules are relatively flat, and all power electronics are directly integrated into the motor modules. This mechatronic system eliminates the requirement for separate drive electronics or amplifiers that would increase footprint elsewhere. Real-world applications with multiple customers have repeatedly shown that footprint reductions of 25-50% are possible through proactive design and the advantages of XTS.

A modular system for flexible industrial automation

Modularity is a strong suit of the XTS, and it helps manufacturers and machine builder OEMs across industries implement Industrie 4.0 and IIoT concepts. The motor modules plug directly into each other and require just one Ethernet cable every 3 m to connect to the EtherCAT master. Guide rail options include the standard Beckhoff track for lighter payloads, which mounts to the side of the motor module, as well as integrated heavy-duty solutions.

HepcoMotion’s GFX Hepco Guidance System, for example, is a flush-mounted track that carries up to 12-kg loads. (Hepco GFX equipment is available in the U.S. from Bishop-Wisecarver.) There are a variety of mover options as well, depending on track and payload requirements. No matter the size, movers are always mapped as individual servo axes in TwinCAT 3 automation software, with built-in collision avoidance, jerk avoidance and automatic buffering. The three modular components combine to create nearly limitless opportunities for product transport.

While the motor modules, rails and movers enable designs with the utmost flexibility, the key benefit of XTS is that it

supports easy reconfiguration without needing to be taken apart and reassembled. Program changes can happen on the fly, and in cloud-connected smart factories, machine builder OEMs or offsite engineering staff can perform updates remotely. The incredible modularity and customization of the system allows for rapid changeovers, enabling flexible mass production down to lot size 1. It’s truly a revolutionary way to approach machine design.

Want to learn more about mechatronics can boost industrial automation applications? Contact your local Beckhoff sales engineer today.


Jeff Johnson, Mechatronics Product Manager, Beckhoff Automation LLC

Jeff Johnson is the Mechatronics Product Manager for Beckhoff Automation LLC.

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