Motion system integration, 3 overlooked points

Tips and Tricks: Control Engineering asked what engineers overlook when doing motion system integration. Pay attention to mechatronics, scalability, and the advantages of using one automation architecture.

By Paul Whitney March 23, 2012

What are the top three points engineers overlook in motion system integration? Three overlooked areas involve mechanical and electrical integration (mechatronics), scalability, and using one architecture for motion system integration.

1. Mechanical and electrical integration: Many engineers cannot justify the time required to invest in properly right-sizing system components during mechanical integration. But over- or under-sized components can add unnecessary expense and reduce system performance, both immediately and in the long term. For example, machine builders often don’t discover if a motor provides the precise power required for an application until commissioning. Going back at this point to choose a new motor is costly and time-consuming, so machine builders tend to select a product that has too much power rather than too little. However, too much power increases costs, as more powerful motors are more expensive to purchase and can impact an application’s dynamic performance requirements. Additionally, larger motors use more power, increasing energy costs throughout the life of the machine.

Finding the right-sized motor in a virtual environment allows machine builders to cost-effectively and quickly optimize system performance and energy efficiency. Software tools are available to help.

2. Scalability: Traditional architectures require separate control infrastructures for most factory automation applications, including safety, motion, and process control. This creates unnecessary complexity because each platform has a unique design environment, user interface, and vendor support model. The new, modern approach to control helps machine builders standardize on one control architecture and leverage a common application programming and configuration environment. This standardization helps improve design flexibility, providing the ability to scale the control system up, down, or across applications to meet a range of needs.

3. Single, open network architecture: In the past, motion applications required their own dedicated network. Any engineer looking to integrate motion is probably all too familiar with the hassles of multi-tiered network strategies, from communication issues to massive amounts of cabling. But don’t stop at integrated motion. By replacing a multi-tier networking strategy with one standard network architecture, machine builders and manufacturers can reduce their engineering, commissioning, and deployment time and integration risks.

Whitney is commercial program manager – Integrated Architecture, Rockwell Automation. Edited by Mark T. Hoske, CFE Media, Control Engineering content manager.