Building a machine using motion design software

Motion design software allows engineers to design machines for improved accuracy and overall performance.
By Matt Prellwitz, Beckhoff Automation March 3, 2018

Figure 1: Modern motion designer software can help specify, design and simulate fully-functional mechanics in machines and other equipment. Courtesy: Beckhoff AutomationMotor technology is so steeped in mechanical engineering it can be easy to forget how much impact software can have on the accuracy and performance levels of motion system designs. This extends to automation software as well as modern motion design software packages that help specify, design, and simulate fully-functional mechanics in machines and other equipment. 

Using motion design software for optimized motion control

Motion design packages have been around for a long time and are often run in a stand-alone fashion. PC-based motion control platforms are built on universal software that can fully integrate a motion design into the entire automation engineering environment and can be installed in a stand-alone fashion. These can be used to properly size servomotors to strike a better balance between motor size and service life and optimize overall equipment efficiency (OEE).

All necessary motion axis calculations for load, mass, speed, inertia, and torque are automated, as are the connected mechanical components or conveyors, crank arms, delta robots, and more. This helps the user select the right servomotor and drive system. This also ensures the motor’s accuracy and performance before a mounting plate is attached. It also simplifies the configuration for typical mechanical components in complex designs so users can properly analyze counter weights and tensioners, for example.

Rough estimates for simple load cases with motion profiles, such as those based on a half or third rule, or a seven-segment profile, are easy to achieve. More complex motion control tasks and full kinematic systems, possibly in conjunction with more sophisticated motion profiles, such as cam gears according to VDI 2143 Blatt 1 Motion rules for cam mechanisms; theoretical fundamentals, are also taken into account. With an additional import tool, more complex motion profiles can be added from measurement results, which are generated in the automation software and exported to CSV files.

Figure 2: Properly sized servomotors maximize service life and optimize overall equipment efficiency (OEE) in the long run. Courtesy: Beckhoff AutomationExport functions in motion design software make it possible to transfer configurations to automation software system managers without needing repeated inputs. Integrated regeneration calculations look at the mechanical considerations that must be made to allow proper accessory selection upfront. Users are notified if components are configured incorrectly with event notifications and visual notifications on-screen.

A built-in optimization algorithm leads to clearly being able to select gearboxes and motors. It suggests the optimum combination based on mechanical and cost considerations as defined by the user, taking into account adjustable filters. The connected database provides access to all available gearboxes, motors and servo drives offered by the vendor, including input/output (I/O) terminals with built-in drive functionality for servomotors.

The automatic geometry-matching feature checks motor compatibility and gear units, which prevent selecting combinations not suitable for the application. Finished motion design projects can be exported to a PDF file with complete bill of materials and documentation for all motor and drive aspects and all of the necessary cables and accessories required to commission a complete system in the field.

Figure 3: All necessary motion axis calculations for load, mass, speed, inertia and torque can be automated. Courtesy: Beckhoff AutomationWith these modern mechanical design tools, engineers have a clearer picture into how machines and equipment will perform long before the build and install phases begin.

Matt Prellwitz is a drive technology application specialist, Beckhoff Automation. Edited by Emily Guenther, associate content manager, Control Engineering, CFE Media,


KEYWORD: Motion design

  • Motion design software benefits
  • How to optimize a motor’s accuracy, performance, and lifecycle.

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