Control Engineering Motors, Drives, & Motion Control Newsletter for November 2000

By Frank Bartos June 4, 2002

In this issue:

  • Acquisitions continue
  • Smart linear motion modules
  • Induction motors rate new design software
  • Telemetry transmits torque info in real time
  • Motors ‘briefs’
  • Companies in motion
  • ‘Motor drives’ training
  • Information free for the asking
  • Control Engineering in October/November

Motion-control-related acquisitions continue

The Schneider Electric (Rueil Malmaison, France) acquisition of Crouzet Automatismes (Valence, France) and SIG Positec (Lahr, Germany; U.S. office in Plymouth, Mich.) continues a recent flurry of motion-control-related company mergers. Schneider’s objective is to widen available solutions across the board, but gains in the motion arena will be significant by adding to its team these two seasoned European suppliers to OEM markets. Two of Crouzet’s four core businesses-micro motors and electronic controls-should directly impact motion control. Positec is a well-known name in motion and position control for automation and machine systems. It has been an innovator in stepper (and servo) motion technology. Presence of the two companies’ products in the U.S. can be expected to widen under Schneider Electric’s umbrella.

Another European industrial automation company, Infranor Inter AG (Zurich, Switzerland), intends to expand its presence in North America. Infranor announced Oct. 31 that it will acquire Automotion Inc. (Ann Arbor, Mich.), a manufacturer of custom brushless servo drives. While Infranor has maintained an engineering and sales organization here for many years through its subsidiary, Infranor Inc. (Naugatuck, Conn.), the acquisition counts on Automation’s servo system expertise to enhance application engineering and sales activities in the U.S.

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Smart linear motion modules

Industrial robotics and intelligent automation technology provider Adept Technology Inc. (San Jose, Calif.) has added to its family of linear motion modules, as announced at Assembly Technology Exposition, Sept. 26. Adept SmartModules are linear motion devices that include SmartAmps, integrated power electronics and servo processing built into the unit, and distributed servo architecture to cut wiring and installation costs, based on IEEE1394 (FireWire). With over 1,800 possible configurations (1-4 axes), SmartModules offer travel lengths of 130-2,000 mm and payloads up to 80 kg; maximum speed is up to 1,200 mm/sec. Two versions are available-R modules for high precision and performance (0.010-mm repeatability) and V modules for lower demand usage (0.020-mm repeatability). Target applications are in assembly, material handling, and packaging for electronics/telecommunications, semiconductors, and fiber-optic markets.

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Induction motors rate new design software

Good news for motor designers, your workhorse industrial motor just got a new design tool. Motorsoft Inc. (Lebanon, O.)-sole North American agent for the developer, University of Glasgow’s (U.K.) SPEED Consortium-now offers a Microsoft Windows 95/98/NT-based CAD program for the design and simulation of ac induction motors. Called PC-IMD 2.5 for Windows, the interactive software models various single-phase induction motors, along with multispeed and 2- and 3-phase ac motors. It provides motor sizing, preliminary design parameters, selected power electronics and control parameters, and various analysis data (such as torque-speed curve, thermal characteristics, root-locus plot, etc.). You can also use PC-IMD 2.5 as an input to larger, more complex simulation and finite element (FEA) programs.

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Telemetry transmits torque info in real time

According to the manufacturer, Binsfeld Engineering Inc. (Maple City, Mich.), you can convert any shaft into a rotating torque sensor that’s simple and easy to install. TorqueTrak 9000 Digital Radio Telemetry System uses a miniature, battery-powered transmitter that rides on the shaft and broadcasts digital data from a torque-sensitive strain gage. A receiver unit completes the system that features 7 gain settings and 8 broadcast frequencies, all of which are selectable by the user. Pricing is $2,395.

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Motors ‘briefs’

Here are some recent developments and announcements about electric motors of potential interest to users:

Pacific Scientific (Rockford, Ill.), a Danaher company, has introduced a new brushless servo motor series, PMA1, with frame lengths of 125-175 mm (just 25 mm longer with integral brake), continuous torque range of 0.21-0.60 Nm (1.86-5.31 lb-in.), and 250 V ac input. Part of the larger PMA motor family, compact PMA1 Series has a 55-mm square cross section and is intended for speed and position control.

Baldor Electric Co. (Fort Smith, Ark.) continues to expand the power range of its large ac motors. Three construction styles of motors-ODP (open drip-proof), WPI, and WPII (two weather-protected styles)-are now available through 1,500 hp and 5810 frame size for low and medium voltages. Construction features include a choice of premium-efficiency or high-efficiency windings.

In a related note, Baldor is more than doubling the size of its Ozark, Ark. motor manufacturing plant for 20-100 hp motors to 187,500 sq. ft. One of 12 Baldor production plants in the U.S., the expansion is to be completed in December 2000.

Thomson Industries Inc. (Port Washington, N.Y.) has added to its BLX Series brushless servos with a size 17 motor that delivers 0.17 Nm continuous torque (0.63 Nm peak) using high-energy magnets. BLX173C2E000 motor has 7,000 rpm maximum speed; an internal, bearing-mounted encoder with 2,000-line resolution; and IP65 environmental sealing.

Kollmorgen (Radford, Va.) Platinum XT Series 3-phase brushless dc servo motors have a slotless, ironless armature design that eliminates preferred pole position and is said to produce ‘zero cogging’ motion. The motors come in three frame sizes (9, 12, and 16 cm), delivering 0.6-2.7 Nm continuous torque and speed up to 6,000 rpm. Resolver or encoder feedback and IP65 sealing are optional features.

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Companies in motion

Addition of two new members-Tality (San Jose, Calif.) and Cincinnati Machine (Cincinnati, O.)-brings the roster to 16 at SERCOS N.A., the North American promotional alliance for the SERCOS (Serial Real-time COmmunication System) interface. Tality provides engineering services and intellectual property for designing complex electronic systems and ICs used in communications systems. Cincinnati Machine is a supplier of many types of CNC machine tools and processing systems for advanced composite materials. E-mail for more info.

Yaskawa Electric America Inc. (Waukegan, Ill.) has again expanded its North American operations with the opening on October 2nd of a 30,000-sq. ft. facility located in Fremont, Calif. This newest site will house Yaskawa’s Semiconductor Group (YSG), a Development Center staffed initially with 30 scientists from the U.S. and Japan, and a Technical Services Group. ‘YSG integrates the company’s extensive product lines into solutions for the demanding needs of the semiconductor manufacturing industry,’ says a Yaskawa spokesperson. The grand opening provided an opportunity to demonstrate various specialized and general-purpose robots within the new applications laboratory. Also on display were Yaskawa’s latest products (such as, servo motors systems, motion controllers, inverters, CNCs, and associated HMI and programming software).

In another October consolidation move, Moog Inc. (East Aurora, N.Y.) widened its motion control base with the acquisition-from Eaton Corp. (Cleveland, O.)-of Vickers Electrics, a $20-million division of Aeroquip-Vickers SpA (Casella, Italy). Vickers Electrics has seen various owners since 1970, after its start as a family-owned company in Italy more than 50 years ago. It was a part of Eaton’s April 1999 acquisition of Aeroquip-Vickers. Vickers Electrics’ strength in high-performance motors and drives, particularly in 600-volt units, is seen as a complement to Moog’s existing electric drive products, and will be marketed worldwide by Moog.

North East Electronic Controls Inc. (NEECI, Maumee, O.), a manufacturer of motion control hardware and software systems for OEM machine builders for over 25 years, continues this newsletter’s ‘Italian connection.’ NEECI has become the national distributor of Axor Industries’ (Vicenza, Italy) full line of servo motors and drives in the U.S. and Canada. Axor’s products include brush dc and brushless motors and drives with a torque range of 0.1-17 Nm. NEECI needs no learning curve with these products, having used some 3,000 Axor drives in its own systems. In a related note, NEECI has recently shipped its 10,000th motion control system.

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‘Motor Drives’ training course

Just announced is a six-part training series on Motor Drives-available on interactive, multimedia CD-ROM-from Coastal Training Technologies Corp. (Virginia Beach, Va.). Focusing on fundamentals of motor drive operation and setup, the training course is intended for technicians and operators who use or maintain these systems.

‘Motor Drive Identification’ leads off the series, defining various types of drives. ‘Open and Closed Loop Systems’ follows with coverage of feedback systems and feedback devices. Part 3, ‘Variable Speed AC Drives,’ addresses the construction and operation of ac drives, the dc bus, power switching devices, etc. ‘Servo and Stepper Motors’ receive detailed coverage in the next part. ‘AC Motor Operation’ (Part 5) topics include the rotating magnetic field, voltage induced in the rotor, and calculation of parameters such as, torque, output power, slip, and power factor. ‘AC Drives Selection and Setup’ concludes the series, explaining set-up requirements for ‘most common ac variable-speed drives,’ along with guidance to handle run, protection, and stop functions. Interactive questions and exercises in each CD-ROM test knowledge and decision-making skills. Cost of the entire series is $3,695; parts are available separately. Coastal publishes a variety of Web-based, CD-ROM, video, and print training products. Toll-free tel: 877/873-6295.

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Information free for the asking

Do you need to implement a total drive system? A new CD-ROM and brochure from Rockwell Automation Drive Systems (Mequon, Wis.) is a helpful step along the way. ‘Systems Solutions’ CD-ROM provides an overview on how to apply drive systems across industries from automotive and converting to textiles and wire-and many in between. Rockwell Automation’s drive system expertise in these applications is also detailed.

A 64-page catalog, available from GE Fanuc Automation (Charlottesville, Va.), serves as a guide to the company’s wide motion offerings, including: amplifiers and motors for servo and stepper technologies, machine control stations, and motion software. Motion Solutions also details new products like S2K Series motion controllers, a combination PLC/operator interface/motion controller unit, and a stepper motor with built-in drive called Stepping Motor Cube.

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Control Engineering in October and November

October’s Up Front page references Texas Instruments ‘ (Houston, Tex.) new open DSP software platform, said to speed up and simplify digital motor control. Because DSP experts developed eXpressDSP, it includes a library of established motor control software modules that conform to interoperability standards. Major types of motors (and control options) are supported-for example, ac induction, brushless dc, switched reluctance, and permanent magnet synchronous motors.

George Ellis, senior scientist at Kollmorgen (Radford, Va.) discusses Feedforward techniques in the ‘Back to Basics’ page. Feedforward is a method used to obtain faster control response in various processes, not just motion control. The method is illustrated using the example of a position controller with velocity feedforward.

Don’t forget the monthly products and software section. In October , servo-pneumatic linear motion control gets a boost from PrecisionAire rodless cylinder with velocity control from Tol-O-Matic Inc. (Hamel, Minn.); more on this product in September 12 Daily News . Products for November include Rockwell Automation’s PowerFlex 70 AC drive, the smallest member of the PowerFlex family; Oriental Motor’s extra-compact brushless dc speed-control system; Animatics’ integrated servo motor/drive package based on an ASIC for lower cost; and a laser cutting robot system from Fanuc Robotics.

In my opinion, one of the most exciting drive developments to come along in a long time is the topic of November’s Technology Update : Submersible medium-voltage drives. ABB’s medium-voltage ac drive with 3-MW output is going more than a mile deep under the ocean to power subsea pumps and gas compressors more efficiently for offshore energy production. It’s part of the SEPDIS (Subsea Electrical Power Distribution System) initiative.

Keep on telling me that all innovations today are in software.

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