Control Engineering eNewsletter for Motors, Drives, & Motion Control for June 2003



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Standards update: PLCopen ''Function Blocks for Motion Control''

''Numerous suppliers'' have implemented ''Function Blocks for Motion Control'' specification since its Version 1.0 release by PLCopen (Zaltbommel, Netherlands) in November 2001, according to Eelco van der Wal, managing director of the organization.

Focus of Function Blocks for Motion Control focus is to standardize interfaces among different motion control approaches and promote more reuse of application software. PLCopen sees the result as less hardware dependent and less costly for training and support.

From the start PLCopen regarded the document as a ''solid basis'' for specifying motion functions rather than a complete set of function blocks. For more complex motion control-as in packaging machines, for example-extensions to the specification will be the next development. A task force, which includes several machine builders, has been formed to handle this phase of work.

A certification procedure is part of PLCopen's spec; certified products can display the logo.

This development has the goal to produce two documents that go beyond the specification's basic functionality provided in Part 1. ''Extensions for Motion Control Library'' (Part 2) will contain basic Function Blocks (FBs), or building blocks, from which users can easily create specific FBs tailored to their own applications, says van der Wal. ''User Guidelines'' (Part 3) will provide composite example Motion Control FBs to guide users in creating their specific User Derived Library. Planned ''release for feedback'' of Parts 2 and 3 of the standard document is in November 2003, at the SPS/IPC/Drives show in Nuremberg, Germany. The project is on track, thanks to three task force meetings, including two more in July and September.

For more information about Function Blocks for Motion Control and PLCopen, a vendor- and product-independent worldwide association supporting IEC 61131-3 programming standard, visit

''The Robot Files''-a new comprehensive resource

Up to date information is key to success in any automation development. Users and potential users of industrial robotic systems now have access to suppliers, integrators, and robot technology in one comprehensive information resource.

''The Robot Files,'' a new CD-ROM issued by the Robotic Industries Association (RIA, Ann Arbor, MI), features nearly 100 case studies of robot system installations. A search interface enables users to select a case study by industry, application, or keyword. Also included is ''User's Guide to Robot Systems Integrators,'' an extensive listing of integrators by industry experience and specialty area. Safety considerations for robots and their cost justification are among other material found on the disk. (Complementing the CD is ''2003 Robotics Industry Directory,'' which profiles 190 supplier companies.)

The CD and Directory are available free to qualified users. To request your free copies from RIA, click here or call +1 734/994-6088.

Readers' survey: servomotors

Servo motor users consistently rate these performance and functional features as 'very important.'

In April 2003, Control Engineering and Reed Research Group (both part of Reed Business Information) conducted an e-mail survey of CE's readers who evaluate, specify, recommend, install, and/or purchase servo motors. Here are some highlights of their views and preferences based on 152 full responses:

  • Brushless servo motors are the dominant choice over brush-dc type motors (87% vs. 13% of respondents).

  • Users clearly prefer to buy servo motors matched with controllers (64%) rather than separate units (12%). However, 24% say they have no preference.

  • Nearly half (48%) of respondents require speed capabilities of 3,000 rpm or less.

  • Distributed architectures are on the rise with over one-third (36%) of users applying their servo motors in a networked environment-up from 19% in the 2000 survey. DeviceNet (71%) is currently the most popular networking method, followed by Ethernet (59%), SERCOS (49%), Profibus (34%), and Modbus (32%), among networked users in this survey.

  • In the year ahead, servo motor purchases will remain steady. Only 11% of those surveyed say their purchasing outlook will decrease.

Click here to read more about survey results, manufacturers' views, and motor products in my June 2003 Product Focus article.


Servo amplifier ''briefs'''

Three Xenus models offer peak currents from 18 to 40 Amp.

Copley Controls (Canton, MA) has introduced Xenus all-digital servo amplifiers that feature two-wire, CANopen networking and the power to drive brushless and brush dc motors (including linear motors) rated up to 5 kW (6.67 hp). Networked amplifiers close the local feedback loop internally, which eliminates the need for a separate motion controller. A built-in dc power supply eliminates separate dc supply and runs on single- or three-phase 85-264 V ac input. Sinusoidal or trapezoidal motor commutation is provided.

Xenus amplifiers operate at 15 kHz (67r motors to high-torque servo motors.

Galil's AMP-20440 servo amplifier board.

Intended for smaller applications, two new servo amplifier boards from Galil Motion Control (Rocklin, CA) widen the options for the company's DMC-21x3 Ethernet motion controllers. AMP-20420 (2-axis version) and AMP-20440 (4-axis) mount directly to the controller via a DIN connector, without the need for cables or wiring. These boards drive brush-type servo motors up to 200 W output.

AMP-20440 contains four transconductance, PWM amplifiers on a 4.95 x 3.75 in. board, while AMP-20420 uses two PWM amplifiers. Each board accepts 20-60 V dc, 3.3 A input without the need for an external heat sink. Promoted as a low-cost solution, the 4-axis DMC-2143 controller and AMP-20440 drive combination sells for $1,090 in 100 quantity orders, or less than $275/axis.

More choices for integrated drives and motors

Combining an ac induction motor with adjustable-speed controls in one unit has been a commercial reality for a decade or longer. Numerous manufacturers worldwide include this product niche among their offerings. Yet, the integrated approach has not caught on to the extent envisioned by the manufacturers, in part, because of insufficient awareness by users. Here's some recent news about integrated drives and motors (IDMs).

Eta Solution Series K features a gear motor.

Danfoss Drives' (Loves Park, IL) product is VLT DriveMotor FCM 300, which has preset speed controls for 3-phase induction motors in the 0.25-10 hp range at 380-480 V input. It comes with IP55 protection (or IP56/66 optional). Increasingly, gear motors are available in this type of product, eliminating a separate gearbox design. Eta Solution Series K from Danfoss Bauer (Somerset, N.J.) integrates a gear motor with a full variable-frequency drive. There are various choices of gearing types for the gear motor. Power rating and supply voltage is the same as for FCM 300.

Integrated drives and motors from SEW-Eurodrive 's (Lyman, SC) Movimot product line also include gear motor versions. Helical, parallel-shaft helical, helical-bevel, and helical-worm gear motors are available. Movimot has a size range of 0.5-5 hp at 380-500 V ac input or 0.5-3 hp at 200-240 V input. The integrated design comes with IP65 protection rating.

Baldor Electric Co. (Fort Smith, AR) supplies a line of integrated drives and motors rated from 1 through 10 hp, at 230- and 460-V input. Named ''SmartMotor,'' the entire line is now supplied in a washdown-duty version.

Also click here to read more on integrated drive and motor products in a December 2000 CE article.

Wanted: Your input to 2004 Editorial Calendar

Soon, we will meet to plan Control Engineering's Editorial Calendar for 2004. If you have any thoughts or suggestions on what you would like to see covered in the Motors, Drives & Motion Control sector please send them along for consideration to:


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