Control Engineering Motors, Drives, & Motion Control Newsletter for March 2002

By Frank Bartos June 4, 2002

In this issue:

  • Smaller sizes coming to motor and controller integration
  • Readers surveyed on motion control, Part 3
  • Developments in energy management and efficiency
  • Motion control gets into collaborative manufacturing
  • Robotics contest for students
  • Control Engineering in March
  • Companies in motion
  • Continuing education
  • Control Engineering News

Smaller sizes coming to motor and controller integration

You will see more of miniaturization coming to one-package integrated servo motors and controllers. Essentially complete servo positioning systems, these products are generally not smaller than NEMA 17 (or about 42 mm). However, several manufacturers are working to change that limit or have products ready to go for the right customer order.

Actually, one working example of a NEMA 11 (28 mm) brushless dc servo motor and controller package was seen in the Motion Control Hall at the recently held National Manufacturing Week (NMW) exhibitions in Chicago. It’s the smallest model of the NTDynamo line from Hurst Manufacturing (Princeton, Ind.), a division of Emerson. NTDynamo’s features include class B insulation system, ring magnets rather than arcs, and options such as different controllability levels, multiple winding/stack length combinations, and various feedback devices. For more, visit

Also at the NMW show, Robert Bigler, president and ceo of Animatics Corp. (Santa Clara, Calif.), mentioned to me that smaller sizes of Animatics integrated SmartMotors are coming. ‘Three sizes of SmartMotors substantially smaller than NEMA 17 will be available this year,’ he said. Some models will include a planetary gearhead. At these smaller dimensions, size of the controller chip or even the encoder pickup becomes another design problem to solve. For more, visit

Nevertheless, still smaller integrated, intelligent motor-drive packages are on the way.

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Further results of motion control trends survey; care to comment?

Recently, I was involved in generating the questionnaire to an extensive ‘Motion Control Trends Survey’ of readers of Control Engineering and Design News magazines, conducted by Cahners Research. The collaborative survey explored the views of users and specifiers of motion technology. I shared some of the results with you, along with my analysis, in two previous newsletters. Here’s another batch of results.

Many types of electronic drives are available to users today. And survey respondents indicated a variety of drives actually in use to power their motors.

Open-loop (Volts/Hz) control is still the most commonly applied technology for drives, with nearly 69% of respondents indicating their use currently. The next tier of motor controls presently applied, say the users are: brush dc servo drives (52.8%), dc adjustable-speed drives (ASDs) with SCR/thyristor control (51.6%), and stepper drives (50.3%). Following in close order in the survey were ac servo drives, dc ASDs with pulse-width modulated control, and brushless dc servo drives-at present usage levels of 45%, 43.6%, and 41.6%, respectively. Next came ac ASDs with encoderless flux-vector control (34.2%), closed-loop, flux-vector control (32.3%), and direct control of torque (16.7%).

Over the next 18 months all electric drive types surveyed will have new planned usage. Expected percentage growth indicated varies depending on the particular technology, but tends to be larger for newer drive types that have lower usage at present.

Additional details from this comprehensive Motion Control Trends survey can be found in a Special Supplement to March 2002 Control Engineering and the March 11, 2002, issue of Design News . Also see ‘Motion Trends 2002’ in CE March 2002 at /archives/2002/ctl0302.01/020301.htm

Do you have comments on these findings? E-mail me at

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Developments in energy management and efficiency

The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA, Rosslyn, Va.) has issued a guide to help select and apply ac induction motors in the 1-500 hp range. With the catchy title of ‘Energy Management Guide for Selection and Use of Fixed Frequency Medium AC Squirrel-Cage Poly-phase Induction Motors,’ publication MG 10-2001 contains practical guidance on various aspects of applying ac induction motors. Energy-efficient motors, NEMA Premium Efficiency motors-a new product category-and energy-management considerations for motors are included in the guide.

MG 10-2001 is available from Global Engineering Documents (Tel: 800/854-7179 [U.S.] or 303/397-7956 [international], Fax: 303/397-2740.) Cost for a hard copy is $41. The guide can be viewed at (under Standards). Or for more information, visit

Baldor Electric Co. (Fort Smith, Ark.) presented one-day seminars in the Chicago area on February 25 & 26 to spread the word on ways industrial customers can reduce their total electric bill and get return on investment typically under 24 months. ‘2002 Energy Cost Reduction Seminar’ focused on industrial ac induction motors because they’re very large consumers of electric power-around 63% of electricity used by industry and 25% of all electricity sold in the nation-according to U.S. Dept. of Energy 1998 figures. However, the role of other energy-consuming equipment in reducing electricity cost was also discussed. For more, visit

Initial cost of a motor represents only around 3% of the its total lifetime expense. Operating cost accounts for 97%! Electricity usage cost for a 50-hp motor over 10 years can mean an investment of $300,000, requiring an executive-level decision when it’s time to replace a motor with a higher efficiency one. Seminars of this type help educate users and company executives about the potential of energy-efficient products and deliver the message that energy management must have company-wide perspective to be successful. For more details of the seminar, see March 8, 2002, Daily News at /archives/news/2002/March/fb0308a.htm

In a related item, the Consortium for Energy Efficiency Inc. (CEE, Boston, Mass.) reports significant U.S. market penetration for high-efficiency appliances (e.g., clothes washers), light-emitting diode traffic signals, and industrial electric motors. For motors, CEE’s March 8, 2002, news release states that the U.S. market share for premium-efficiency motors is now more than 20%, reaching as high as 30% in areas where utility rebate programs are in effect. According to CEE, ‘Twelve major manufacturers are currently producing these motors as an integral part of their top lines.’

Manufacturers presently offering NEMA Premium motors are A.O. Smith, Baldor Electric, Emerson Motors, GE Motors, Leeson Electric, Marathon Electric, Rockwell Automation, Siemens, Sterling Electric, Toshiba International, and WEG Electric, according to CEE.

CEE is a non-profit organization that promotes energy-efficient products and services at the national level. For more, visit

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Motion control gets into collaborative manufacturing

Blending of motion control into the larger world of automation and manufacturing is an ongoing theme. One recent example is ‘Motion Developer,’ one of three interoperable parts of Cimplicity Machine Edition software introduced in early February 2002 by GE Fanuc Automation (Charlottesville, Va.) For more, visit

Cimplicity Machine Edition is an integrated software development environment for machine-level programming, monitoring and data acquisition, and troubleshooting, according to GE Fanuc. With Motion Developer users can create motion-control programs for GE Fanuc S2K Series motion controllers. The resulting motion blocks can be saved in a common repository or ‘Toolchest’ for further use or in future projects. Up to 100 motion blocks can be saved.

The software also includes ‘View’ and ‘Logic Developer.’ View is a machine-level graphical interface for factory-floor devices such as PLCs, CNCs, and motion controllers. A graphics tool allows users to create objects within the Toolchest. View offers web connectivity and publishing capabilities, as well. Logic Developer provides the tools needed to develop, monitor, and debug applications.

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Robotics contest for students

Where can you have some fun and see engineering students put their pre-career talents into practice? One of the largest robotics automation contests for students in North America-middle school through university level-is such a place.

Robotic Technology Engineering Challenge (RTEC), to be held May 4-5 at the Rochester Institute of Technology (Rochester, N.Y.), is an Olympic-style event where student teams have a choice of competing in 16 categories designed for various student levels. Challenge categories range from remote/self-controlled robots and a fluid power contest to rapid application development and pick-and-place robots. ‘Students demonstrate their knowledge of problem-solving techniques, teamwork, and creativity during the competition,’ according to Robotics International of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME, Dearborn, Mich.), one of the event’s sponsors. The challenge also has several corporate sponsors. For more, visit

Elimination rounds of RTEC will take place on May 4, followed by the finals on May 5. Application deadline for student teams is April 5, 2002. More than 800 students and instructors from 13 states participated in last year’s challenge. Judges for individual events and team mentors are still needed, as well as additional corporate sponsorships for the event’s various phases. For more information, visit

And if you are in the Rochester area in early May, stop by at RTEC and cheer on these ‘Young Roboteers.’

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Control Engineering in March

Topics on motors, drives, and motion control appear each month in print.

As mentioned earlier in this newsletter, two articles in the March 2002 issue highlight findings of the comprehensive Motion Control Trends survey conducted by Control Engineering and Design News magazines and Cahners Research.

In the March 2002 Integrator Update department, the upgrading of a flexographic printing press drive from dc to ac by Omron IDM Controls (Houston, Tex.) is described.

Control Engineering’s 15th Annual Editors’ Choice Awards include five products from the motors, drives and motion control ‘beat.’ The winners are:

  • SmartAxis integrated linear motion module with servo motor, power amplifier, and controller in one package from Adept Technology Inc. (San Jose, Calif.). For more, visit

  • Series 4000 and 5000 Tubular Linear Servo Motors from California Linear Devices (Carlsbad, Calif.), offering peak forces up to 1,125 lb. For more, visit,

  • Electro Standards Laboratories’ (Cranston, R.I.) collaborative test and experiment platform for motors and power systems called Virtual Engineering Laboratory. For more, visit,

  • ‘Magnetic’ Adjustable Speed Drive for ac motors up to 600 hp, as well as 4.3 kV medium-voltage motors from MagnaDrive Corp. (Seattle, Wa.) For more, visit,

  • Rotary Sine/Cosine Electric Encoder, a low-cost yet high-accuracy technology based on capacitance sensing from Netzer Precision Motion Sensors Ltd. (Misgav, Israel) For more, visit

This month’s Products & Software Section includes several items specific to this sector. Mini-Top linear and rotary valve actuators from M-System Technology (Addison, Tex.) incorporate DeviceNet communication, and employ a stepping motor for long life in harsh environments. For more, visit

SatCon Power Systems’ (Anaheim, Calif.) Starsine Rotary UPS features 12-second batteryless ride-through provided by a flywheel for powerline disturbances. For more, visit,

EagleDrive Series variable-frequency drives from Anacon Systems Inc. (Mountain View, Calif.) span the size range of 0.5-120 hp, in two basic series (for 1- and 3-phase ac motors), and offer 1% speed regulation and minimum full-load torque at 3 Hz. For more, visit

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Companies in motion

In late February, Parker Hannifin (Cleveland, O.) announced an alliance with Animatics Corp. (Santa Clara, Calif.), a designer/manufacturer of integrated servo motor and control systems, known as SmartMotors. The alliance will have several aspects: Parker will have access to Animatics’ patented technology, including new products; both companies can develop products jointly; and Parker can incorporate Animatics controllers on its own motors for marketing through its channels. Parker expects to produce these integrated motor modules at its Compumotor Division (Rohnert Park, Calif.)-part of the Automation Group. The benefit to Animatics is an expanded market, while customers gain another choice in integrated servo products. For more on Animatics, go to For more on Parket Hannifin, go to and

Performance Motion Devices Inc. (PMD), a specialist company in chip-based motion control, is relocating from Lexington, Mass., as of April 1, 2002, to new facilities in nearby Lincoln, Mass. The larger facility reflects future growth plans, as well as recent additions to PMD’s engineering and sales staff, explains Richard J. Sullivan, PMD president and ceo. For more, visit

Danaher Corp. (Washington, D.C.) has recently acquired the assets of IDC Corp. (Petaluma, Calif.), a manufacturer and developer of linear actuation and positioning products. IDC also was a pioneer in ‘electric cylinder’ technology. The transaction was part of the bankruptcy proceeding for Automation Solutions LLC, parent company of IDC. For the 2001 fiscal year, IDC had revenues of $12.2 million. IDC’s more than 25 years of expertise is expected to provide a ‘building block’ for Danaher’s future linear solutions, and will become part of the Danaher Motion strategic platform. For more, visit

Motion control software supplier Roy-G-Biv Corp. (RGB, Bingen, Wa.) partnered in early March 2002 with Oregon Micro Systems Inc, (OMS, Beaverton, Ore.), a manufacturer of multi-axis motion controllers. The alliance has the objective to deliver a ‘low-cost’ solution that integrates the companies’ respective technologies through RGB’s motion software suite called XMC (eXtensions for Motion Control). Users will be able to more rapidly implement OMS-based motion control products in various applications using the combined approach. For more on Roy-G-Biv Corp., visit For more on OMS, go to

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Continuing education

Education is a continuing requisite at all levels of business and technology.

The Education Foundation of the National Association of Electrical Distributors (NAED, St. Louis, Mo.) has announced the inclusion of 2002 National Electrical Code in its updated Electrical Products Education Course (EPEC) program. This comprehensive self-study program is structured on three levels, each with five modules.

The ‘bronze’ level overviews the industry, its terminology, and how the wide range of products that distributors sell fits into electrical systems. More complex environments, including industrial and OEM, are covered by the ‘silver’-level modules. Focus remains on interrelationships of products to the overall system. ‘Gold’-level modules examine products that distribute, control, and use electrical power in today’s commercial/industrial markets.

The updated program will be available in first-quarter 2002 with a new, simpler pricing structure. Cost is $499 for each level. For more information about EPEC, contact Bill Benham in the NEF Fulfillment Center at (888) 332-3960.

NAED’s membership includes a roster of electrical distributors at approximately 4,000 locations throughout the U.S. For more, visit

Does your company need in-house courses customized to specific needs? If so, the Motor & Motion College of SMMA-The Motor & Motion Association (Sherborn, Mass.) offers a wide range of courses on motor and motion control topics. Ability to fit course content to an audience’s knowledge and experience level is the advantage of in-house courses. SMMA staff works with the company’s personnel to accomplish that task. Among courses available are:

  • Basic motor theory, operation, and application;

  • Fundamentals of electric motor design;

  • Feedback devices;

  • Motor fundamentals for non-technical professionals;

  • Permanent magnet dc motor design;

  • Brushless dc motor design; and

  • Fundamentals of brushless motor control.

Pricing is negotiated based on length of the course and travel costs for the instructor. For more details, visit

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Control Engineering News

Just in case you were not able to visit the National Manufacturing Week of technology exhibitions-which includes National Industrial Automation Show-in Chicago (March 18-21, 2002), you can still catch up on some of the action electronically at / (Click on NMW 2002 Special Show Coverage.)

Control Engineering Online includes nine topical e-mailed newsletters, Daily News, Control Engineering Europe , and searches of the site, Control Engineering Buyer’s Guide , and Automation Integrator Guide Online ; go to /

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