Control Engineering’s Motors, Drives, and Motion Control Newsletter for May 2001

By Frank Bartos June 4, 2002

In this issue:

  • Motion controllers update
  • MV drive adds synchronous motor control
  • Integrated motor-drive units in hazardous areas
  • Hannover Fair ‘briefs’
  • Expert info, cost analysis for Intelligent MCCs
  • Companies in motion
  • Two mini-tutorials on motor drives
  • Control Engineering in May

Motion controllers update

A dynamic development environment produces continual improvement and enhancement of motion controllers.

A programmable ‘electronic cam’ function has been added to SDM314 digital motion controllers from GE Fanuc Automation (Charlottesville, Va.). Emulating a mechanical cam-but without attendant wear problems-electronic camming allows tight coordination of master and slave axes on a machine and transition between complex move profiles that would otherwise require changing cams. A Cam Editor tool allows user entry of position information and ability to create/store cam profiles in a library. SDM314 cam functions support non-cyclic, linear cyclic and circular cyclic types of cam profiles. These motion controllers work together with GE Fanuc’s Series 90-30 PLCs.

Galil Motion Control (Rocklin, Calif.) has introduced ‘box-level’ versions of its Ethernet motion controllers. DMC-1415-Box (single-axis) and DMC-1425-Box (dual-axis) units include a power supply, Ethernet 10 Base-T and RS-232 ports, and come packaged in a metal housing that connects directly to 90-260 V ac supply. Point-to-point positioning, jogging, and encoder inputs up to 12 MHz are among performance features. Pricing is $795 for a single-axis controller; $895 for a dual-axis unit.

Delta Tau Data Systems Inc. (Chatsworth, Calif.) has recently announced a 3U Eurocard format machine controller called Turbo UMAC (Universal Motion and Automation Controller). Turbo UMAC can simultaneously control up to 32 motion axes with direct connection to the CPU board via a UBUS backplane, according to the company. Lots of connectivity features are included, such as Ethernet, USB, Macro (Delta Tau’s own fiber-optic communication system), other bus types, and digital as well as analog interfaces.

Another machine controller, QMAC, was introduced by Delta Tau earlier in 2001. This lower cost controller targets 2- to 4-axis CNC applications in a book-sized unit that includes onboard power supply. RS-232, Macro, and USB connectivity are available. Both Turbo UMAC and QMAC work with virtually any stepper or servo motor and amplifier.

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Medium-voltage drive adds synchronous motor control

Robicon (New Kensington, Pa.) has extended its Perfect Harmony line of medium-voltage (MV) drives for use with synchronous motors. Users benefit from improved harmonics and clean power input, without having to depend on older technology of load-commutated inverter (LCI) MV drives. When used with synchronous motors, LCI-type medium-voltage drives suffer from difficult starting, high input and output harmonic distortion, and low power factor.

Perfect Harmony MV drives use the latest semiconductor power-switching devices and series-cell, multi-level controls to overcome the limitations of LCIs. Ability to use standard synchronous motors brings out their advantages of efficiency, reliability, and lower initial cost. Existing synchronous motors can also be retrofitted with these newer MV drives, says Robicon.

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Integrated motor-drive units in hazardous areas

Some readers have asked about use of these combined ac induction motor-drive units in hazardous areas of a plant, following recent articles on this topic in Control Engineering, Dec. 2000 and Control Engineering Europe, Feb./March 2001 .

A less than in-depth follow up investigation shows very few integrated motor-drives (IMDs) available for hazardous area applications. This is in contrast to a growing number of IMD products and suppliers for ‘normal’ environments-as well as plenty of explosion-proof motors in the market. The scarcity seems to be in qualified combinations of motors and controls. Low demand is also a contributor.

Not to despair, the product you seek is available. For example, Moeller (Bonn, Germany) offers ac induction motor-drive combinations designed to operate in hazardous areas (II 2 EEX de IIC T4 degree of protection). Moeller’s Compact Drive comes in 0.55-11 kW sizes , with IEC motors, and was on exhibit at Hannover Fair in Germany. A NEMA-style motor should be a possibility, given some level of user demand. The company’s U.S. subsidiary is Moeller Electric Corp. (Franklin, Mass.).

Another manufacturer of this specialty product is Loher AG (Ruhstorf, Germany), with its Motovert line providing units over the 0.55-4 kW size range for the same degree of protection.

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Motion-related ‘briefs’ from Hannover Fair

Numerous motion control and related developments emerge at this gigantic industrial trade show, held annually in April at Hannover, Germany. Here is just a sampling of the innovations. For more about Hannover Fair, see May 22, 2001 daily News online at

Adept Technology Inc. (San Jose, Calif.) introduced a new six-axis robot, AdeptSix 300, at the fair’s Factory Automation sector. Intended for assembly and material handling applications, AdeptSix 300 robots provide 3 kg (6.6 lb) payload and 677 mm (26.65 in.) reach. Standard controller for the unit is Adept’s MV540, with options such as vision guidance, extra I/O modules, external motion control, and software application packages available.

In a related item, Adept has added an on-line tool to automate analysis and selection of specific configurations of its SmartModules-a line of linear motion devices, power electronics, and servo processor combined in one package. Performance Analyzer, part of Adept’s recently introduced e-catalog for SmartModules, is said to reduce engineering time by as much as 75% through automated calculations of design life, cost, and performance details.

Ready for a car without accelerator, or brake pedals, or steering wheel and steering column? SKF (Göteborg, Sweden) exhibited a prototype automobile with total drive-by-wire controls-for steering, throttle, brake, and gearshift (clutch) functions. ‘Filo’ is a product of SKF’s Automotive Div. in conjunction with Stile Bertone of Italy. See more at ( May 8 Daily News ).

HMS Industrial Networks (Halmstad, Sweden; Chicago. Ill.) introduced Any-Bus-S modules with a built-in Drive Profile that supports various communication networks commonly used with motor drives. The new software function simplifies the task of making a drive compatible with various networks, such as Profibus-DP (with ProfiDrive), DeviceNet (with AC/DC Profile), CANopen (with DSP-402), Interbus (with DriveCom), and others.

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Expert info, cost analysis for Intelligent MCCs

Do you need to learn more about long-term savings possible when using intelligent motor control centers (MCCs)? If so, a white paper ‘Integrated, Intelligent Motor Control Centers’ issued by Rockwell Automation (Milwaukee, Wis.) may be a useful tool. The white paper contains comprehensive technical analysis and cost-savings information about intelligent MCCs.

Also included in the paper is a detailed cost comparison of traditional versus intelligent MCCs that shows the latter’s advantages. Intelligent MCCs deliver all the functions of standard units, plus the added feature of enabling real-time process information that helps improve plant productivity. [For more information, also see CE, March 2000, pp 13-14 .]

Readers can download the paper electronically from or obtain a free copy from Rockwell Automation Response Center, Tel: 800/223-5354 x1371.

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Companies in motion

Anorad Corp. (Hauppauge, N.Y.)-a Rockwell Automation Business Unit-just announced a licensing agreement with Etel SA (Môtiers, Switzerland) for nonexclusive use of patents involving a part of Anorad’s linear motor technology. Anorad pioneered the development of high-precision linear motion and control technologies. Etel, owned by Dr. Johannes Heidenhain GmbH of Germany, specializes in high-performance motion control products.

International Rectifier Corp. (El Segundo, Calif.) has recently established a software design center in Halifax, Nova Scotia, at the site of International Rectifier Electronic Motion Systems (IR EMS) Canada. The new facility will be key to IR’s expansion into the software side of electronic motion control, says the company. IR EMS motion control software focuses on brushless dc and ac induction drives used in the latest automotive and home appliance applications. Example applications include electrical power steering, brake-by-wire systems, integrated starter-alternators, and refrigeration compressors under highly efficient electronic control.

A new digital device driver created by Manufacturing Data Systems Inc. (MDSI, Ann Arbor, Mich.) now supports Mechatrolink digital communications network for Yaskawa Electric ‘s (Waukegan, Ill.) family of digital servo systems, inverters, and I/O modules. The driver, to be a part of MDSI’s OpenCNC software, seeks to reduce integration time; its single interface cable is said to be lower cost than the alternative ribbon cable and hardware.

Adept Technology Inc. (San Jose, Calif.) announced in March the signing of a new system integrator agreement in China with Siasun Robot & Automation Co., Ltd. A subsidiary of Shenyang Institute of Technology, Siasun has five branch offices in China, focusing on robotic assembly, welding, and palletizing. The partnership seeks to expand presence of Adept’s Cobra and XL Series robots in China, with Siasun integrating these and other Adept products into full automation solutions for various industries.

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Two mini-tutorials on motor drives

ABB Automation Inc. (New Berlin, Wis. offers two new references on motor drive fundamentals. These basic mini-tutorials written by Dave Polka, ABB Drives training manager, answer the questions: ‘What is a Motor Drive?’ and ‘How Do You Maintain a Drive?’ The first user aid illustrates control concepts with diagrams and an application example. The second reference is a straightforward ‘how to’ guide.

Readers can obtain a free electronic copy from Becky Nethery , manager of marketing communications at ABB Automation, Drives & Power Products Group ( ).

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Control Engineering in May

Energy-Efficient Motors is the topic of my article in May, which examines what it takes to get more power out of ‘industry workhorse’ ac induction motors. Making electric motors more efficient is a significant part of current and future energy savings. The article also covers the influence of related legislation and standards developments in the U.S. and in Europe. Energy efficient motor products and other efficiency developments are covered here and in an Online Extra article.

Items in May’s News section include simplified torque measurement via Embedded Magnetic Domain sensors from Fast Technology (Livonia, Mich.); and VirtualSizer, a new web-based expert tool, from Motion Tech Trends (Inglewood, Calif.), for selecting electric motors and motion system elements. A longer, more complete piece about VirtualSizer appears in April 18 Daily News online .

In the Products & Software section, MagnaDrive Corp. (Seattle, Wa.) offers its MagnaDrive Coupling , a ‘magnetic’ alternative to variable-speed drives; and Netzer Precision Motion Sensors Ltd. (Misgav, Israel) introduces ‘Electric Encoder,’ its line of low-cost rotary and linear capacitive encoders.

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