Integrated drive programming handles firmware downloads, configuration

Integrated programming environment takes care of drives, movement and path control, visualization, and I/O handling, along with single-axis positioning, linked-axis movements, CNC, and robotics for faster design and start-up of motion system applications.
By Robert Muehlfellner August 16, 2012

Drives, movement and path control, visualization, and I/O handling can be integrated in one environment, such as the B&R Generic Motion Control (GMC) platform, using B&R Automation Studio programming software. Courtesy: B&RDuring motion-control programming, users want to concentrate on application tasks while letting the software take care of the rest (such as drive firmware downloads and configuration), and an integrated software programming environment can help.

For machine automation, everyone needs to integrate movement and path control, connect drives, and have functions such as visualization, I/O processing, and communication available to them. In the past, this created some difficulty because suitable systems for this type of homogenous integration were not available. Now, even anthropomorphic robots, complex CNC 3D processing, and multiple linked axis movements down to single-axis positioning can be modified in real time—and each of these tasks can be accomplished within one software programming environment.

The programming software and real-time operating system create the versatile environment needed for high-precision positioning tasks. Generated set positions can be transferred to the drive without jitter via real-time Ethernet networks like Powerlink. Additionally, the required I/O points can be added to the system in an extremely flexible manner.

Predefined visualization components can also be used to create complex machine functions. In addition to "classic" components, such as parameter configuration and movement program operation, this includes tools for simulation, logging, and process diagnostics. This provides the foundation for all custom visualization solutions of motion-control applications. The flexible system architecture and the large number of functions make it possible to customize and modularize a machine line to meet specific customer requirements.

Such software makes it easier for the user to use and choose different motor technologies as required for the desired machine performance and minimize hardware costs, without adding engineering complexity.

An integrated platform can include drives, movement and path control, visualization, and I/O handling, as well as path control with CNC functionality, with tools for all project phases. Open-loop controllers, closed-loop controllers, drives, CNCs, robotics, communication and visualization, and programmable safety functions can all be configured in one place, reducing integration time and maintenance costs for machine builders and end users.

The modular architecture and structure of the programming environment supports daily programming workflow and gives developers more capacity for the core competencies of the machine. Users are provided integrated and standardized IEC 61131-3 languages and seamless ANSI-C and ANSI-C++ integration into the IEC world. All motion control functions, such as point-to-point movements, coordinated axis movements, or complex robotics paths, are executed using uniform function blocks.

The worlds of single-axis positioning, linked-axis movements, CNC, and robotics can be combined into a homogenous software system. Such  software eases integration of drive technologies for dc motors, linear motors, stepper motors, servo motors, and ac motors. The same software can be used for every application with simple configuration instead of programming.

– Robert Muehlfellner is B&R director of automation technology. Edited by Mark T. Hoske, content manager, CFE Media, Control Engineering, mhoske@cfemedia.com.