Motor drives "hunt" for success

MalAsia strikes drive manufacturers, but motion control is stepping up, according to CONTROL Senior Technical Editor Rich Merritt's Product Roundup of motor drives and motion control devices.

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 By Rich Merritt, Senior Technical Editor

M

otor drives have the same problems as almost all the product categories we’ve written about lately: A declining market overall during the past several years, a move of major markets to Asia, and a dearth of new products and technology hitting the street. When a market is down, manufacturers tend to cut back on research, development and new products, and the same appears to be true with motor drives.

The North American AC and DC drives market declined 2.3% over the past two years, says IMS Research, mostly because of the Iraq war. It expects a slight pickup in the North American drives market in 2004, but expects it will fall off in 2005 and 2006.

The Asia-Pacific market for AC and DC drives is booming, however. ARC Advisory Group predicts sales of high-power AC drives will grow 11.1% in China over the next five years, while IMS says overall drive sales will grow in India by 13.3%. Of course, that is because those countries are building new plants and an infrastructure, while the replacement market will drive sales in North America.

Users in the process control industry learned long ago that one way to save energy calls for installing variable-speed drives. Local power utilities often have grants and subsidies available to cushion the cost of purchasing new drives. Unfortunately, most North American process plants can only afford to replace failed drives in maintenance programs and not as part of a plant-wide energy reduction program.

ARC says the motion control market in North America is stepping up, and predicts an annual growth rate of 6.2% over the next five years, with OEMs on the front lines of development. ARC says manufacturers are faced with the need to handle greater product variations, run at faster production speeds, and achieve higher quality. To achieve this, ARC says machine builders will put advanced motion control techniques into new production equipment.

Alas, the motion control industry is engaged in standardization battles involving networks, programming languages and architectures, says ARC.

Therefore, as OEMs, machine builders and end users seek new and advanced drives and motion control systems that conform to some– any!–sort of standard, they may be frustrated by the lack of new products available. Several of the products listed below in this year’s roundup are just warmed-over versions of older products, with a few “enhancements,” such as upgrades, extensions and new options. Some are last year’s products, submitted again for your consideration. Few drive manufacturers are taking the lead in setting standards.

There are, as always, a few new technical advances hidden away in this year’s roundup. For example, we got a glimpse at the list of parameters available for asset management purposes in a Siemens Micromaster drive. The list goes on for 24 pages, and includes energy consumption information, power factor, phase current, motor inertia, and temperature of the inverter, rectifier, motor, etc. The list contains literally hundreds of variables that are being monitored or calculated by the drive, and are available to any end user who knows how to extract them. Clearly, drive manufacturers understand the need for asset management information, and are making the data available to users.

Unfortunately, we’ve also noticed a decrease in the quality of marketing efforts when it comes to motor drives. For example, several of the motor drive product descriptions we received for the roundup were more than difficult to understand. Just when integrators, machine builders and end users need to fully understand the complex technology being built into drives and motion controls, some leading manufacturers appear to be having difficulty communicating with them.

On one manufacturer’s web site, a host of technical information is readily available, but it is garbled by poor translations from the original language.

It’s as if drive and motion control vendors are waiting for something wonderful to happen in the business world, so they can unleash all their pent-up new product designs and set professional marketing forces loose on us to hawk major advances in motor drive technology. We are with child in anticipation of that day.



PRODUCT ROUND-UP:
Motor Drives and Motion Control Devices
For more information about any of these products, click on the description of the product below to view a longer description and all contact information, including phone numbers, e-mail addresses, websites, and a photo where available.


Motion Controller Simplifies Automation
The PacSystems DSM324i motion controller is integrated with the company’s RX3i Programmable Automation Controller, Series 90-30 Programmable Logic Controller, fiber optic network, servos, and machine control software. The controller can be deployed in a standalone or distributed architecture to control 1–4 axes. It has advanced diagnostics, and uses the company’s Proficy Machine Edition software for programming HMI and motion control functions with a common tag database. GE Fanuc Automation

Keypad Calls For Help on Drives
The control panel/keypad on the ACS550 low-voltage AC drive resembles a cellphone, from the way screens pop up to the Help key. It has separate Start and Stop keys; parameter set keys that use arrows for incremental up or down sets; and two soft keys, the functions of which change according to the operating state of the panel. A built-in Help button, start-up assistant, maintenance triggers, diagnostic assistant and a real-time clock assist in operator setup and use. ABB

Miniature Drive Steps into Action
The Integral E integrated drive and stepper motor is a plug-and-play solution that reduces component count and cabling and decreases product integration time. Several drives can be combined with a single ACR1505 motion controller to form a complete multi-axis motion control system for use in microarrayers or liquid handlers. Parker Electromechanical Automation

Sensorless Drives Tune Themselves
|The Durapulse series of sensorless vector AC drives are available in 1–100 hp models. They have autotuning, 150% starting torque, 150% rated current for one minute, automatic torque and slip compensation, internal dynamic braking circuit, and programmable jog speed. The drives come with 0–10 V, -10–+10 VDC or 4–20 mA analog outputs, 16 preset speeds, 11 programmable digital inputs, four programmable outputs and one analog output. Prices range from $289 to $3,999. Automation Direct

Soft Starter Limits Stress
The Telemecanique Altistart 01 Soft Start provides smooth motor starting control for applications that do not require high starting torque. Soft starting limits the stress on the mechanical parts of a machine and reduces the cost of maintenance and downtime. The starter works with 110–575-V, single-phase and three-phase asynchronous motors, with ratings of 1/4–75 hp, and 20– 60-hp three-phase motors rated 32–85 A at 208, 230, 460 and 575 V. Schneider Electric

Variable-Speed AC Drives
Allen-Bradley PowerFlex 700H and 700S AC drives are available in power ratings from 0.5–450 hp at 400 and 480 V. Machine builders can integrate drives into a manufacturing process using NetLinx, DeviceNet, ControlNet or EtherNet/IP networks. Software includes DriveExecutive and DriveTools SP for programming, configuration, monitoring and troubleshooting. Options include 24-V or 115-V digital I/O plus analog I/O. All drives are CSA/cUL Certified, UL Listed, and CE marked. Rockwell Automation

Motion Controller Uses Fire Wire
Automation 3200 NMotion SMC controller offers 32 axes of synchronized motion control through one interface, expandable to 62 axes. It uses a distributed control architecture that enables it to maintain performance independent of the number of axes being controlled. This avoids the processing bottleneck caused by its previous single-processor control architectures. Trajectory generation is done on the PC, which sends incremental position commands to a drive via the IEEE-1394 (FireWire) serial bus. Aerotech

Seven-Axis Motion Controller
The NextMove ESB provides seven axes of motion control, including up to three axes of servo and four axes of steppers, or seven precision servos. It supports servo loop closure times of 100 µsec and will provide pulse and direction for steppers up to 500 kHz. On board I/O includes 20 digital inputs, 11 digital outputs, two 12-bit differential analog inputs and a precision 12-bit output. Baldor Electric

Amplifier Board Mounts To Motion Controller

The AMP-20540 servo amplifier board attaches directly to the 96-pin DIN connector of the company’s DMC-2143 controller without the need for any cable or wiring. The board drives brush and brushless motors up to 500W. The 6.92 x 4.85 in. board contains four transconductance PWM amplifiers, each capable of producing up to 500 W. It accepts 18-60 VDC, produces 7 A of continuous current, and has a PWM switching frequency of 60 kHz. Prices start at $495 in 100s. Galil Motion Control 

Smart Servo Drive Goes Camming
Compact Compax3 provides position, speed, or torque control, label registration and advanced gearing. Multiple units can be synchronized for multi-axis applications. Units incorporate motor drive, full-feature controller and power supply in a single module. Setup is made easy with an intuitive interface, wizards, online help and an oscilloscope function. Motion controls includes advanced camming, curve linkage virtual master, feed-forward, observer and over sampling functions. Options include analog or step-and-direction signal inputs. Compumotor

Smart Servo Installs Quickly
Smartstep servo motor and drive can be set up and running quickly and easily by simply plugging it in and setting the rotary and DIP switches on the front panel. If it has a technical problem, the drive will display an alarm number that indicates what caused the fault. Its autotune function makes motor tuning nearly effortless and, for quick installation, prefabricated cables connect drive to company’s position control modules. The motors and drives start at $960. Omron

Microstepping Motion Controllers
Additions to MDrive line include models with NEMA motor sizes 14, 17, 23 and 34, in a choice of stack lengths. All have microstepping, speed control with oscillator, and motion control with indexer. Options include an encoder, linear actuator, planetary gearbox, and rear knob for manual control. Applications include instrumentation, packaging, semiconductor, robotics, test and measurement, labeling, inspection, engraving and material handling. Intelligent Motion Systems 

Drive Enhancements Get Open
Enhancements to ACOPOS drives include the addition of PLCopen motion control function blocks and sensorless operation of synchronous and asynchronous motors. Software makes it possible to run motors in servo mode with feedback, or in frequency inverter mode without feedback. Applications which use synchronous or asynchronous motors without encoders can be integrated with servo motors in the network. Programming languages include ladder diagram. structured text, Automation Basic or ANSI-C. B&R Industrial Automation 

CNC Controller Talks to Drives
IndraMotion MTX CNC uses SERCOS for real-time communication with intelligent electrical or hydraulic drives. The CNC provides a maximum interpolation time of 1 ms when controlling eight axes. One controller can operate up to 64 axes using 12 independent CNC channels.  The controller is suitable for 3D machining of complex workpieces on 5 and 6-axis machines in tool and mold making applications. Rexroth

Inverter Drives Three-Phase Motors
The Sinamics G110 low power AC drive frequency inverter operates variable-speed, three-phase motors on single-phase line power supplies.  It is rated for 200–240V input with a power range of 1/6 to 4 hp, and is available in three frame sizes. Siemens Energy & Automation 

Modules Extend Drive Products
Enhancements to the ACS800 industrial drives include rectifier and DC-supplied inverter modules, which enable users to wire input power via a single three-phase AC connection, with each inverter unit sharing the bus. Compared to the company’s other products, these drives free up more floor, wall and panel space to install other electrical components, or use for other operations. ABB 

Servo Drives Connect to Fieldbus
Kollmorgen S300 Series servo drives connect to DeviceNet, Profibus, SERCOS and CANopen. Drives are available as drive-only or with a single axis control card for complex motion tasks. The compact drives offer 1.5-70 A, 115-480 VAC operation, and are suitable for smaller power, space-restricted applications in industries such as packaging, material handling, converting and plastic molding. Danaher Motion 

Adjustable-Frequency Drives
VLT 4152 and 4352 Series drives for variable torque applications are 35% smaller than their predecessors. The NEMA 12/IP54 drives have RFI immunity to EN 55011 class B, integral disconnect with fuse option, 98% operating efficiency, and single box lug or dual cable leg power termination. Drives work in ambient temperature ratings of 40–45° C. Logic routing includes tie-down provisions to simplify installation and protect against noise disturbance. Danfoss Drives 

Servo Amplifiers Get Smart
The MMC Smart Drive servo amplifiers provide 0.5–24 kW continuous output power for 230 and 460-VAC systems. Configuration, tuning and maintenance are accomplished via PiCpro software. The software also allows programming in ladder logic, function block, and structured text languages, and allows development of multi-axis motion control solutions. The amps have phase to phase and phase to ground short circuit protection. G&L Motion Control 

Drive Hits the High Notes
The Cornet drive with Composer software makes this drive sound sweet. The software can be used for set up, configuration, tuning, a ‘scope, and displays. The drive provides up to 3-kW continuous power and 6 kW of peak power in a 7 x 5 x 3-in. package weighing 2.4 lb. It has 32 kB of user programmable memory for controlling complex motion profiles, event triggering, and capturing data. Elmo Motion Controls 

Stepper Drive Starts at $19
The SureStep family of open-loop stepping systems includes four motors with holding torques from 83–434 oz-in, NEMA size 17, 23 or 34 frames, and prices from $19– $149. Models are available with 200–2,000 steps per revolution. A nine-position DIP switch is used to set up the drive for self test, step angle selection, current level selection, and idle current reduction. No software or add-on resistors are required for configuration. Automation Direct 

Motion Control System Goes Modbus
Enhancements to V 2.5 of the Axiom Plus motion control system include an analog input, ModBus RTU connectivity, and improvements to the software, such as a debugging mode, “watch window” for monitoring changing values of registers and flags, and sequential programming functions. The analog input can also be used for digital inputs. Tol-O-Matic 

Brushless DC Motor Gets Integrated
The “NEMA Size 23” motor has an integrated drive for controlling speed and direction with pulse-width modulation. The motor can be configured for unidirectional on/off operation for controlling speed, direction and tachometer output. An optional resistor and capacitor will supply DC voltage proportional to motor speed. Drives are available at 24– 48 VDC with continuous current ranges from 1–5 A, 10-A peak. EAD Motors 

Brushless DC Motor Expands and Controls
Enhancements to the BX Series brushless DC motor include models with outputs of 200 and 400 W, quiet gearheads or round shafts, electromagnetic brakes with stationary position hold, and controllers. The standard-speed controller provides a ratio of 100:1 with no reduction in torque, while the OPX-1A control module provides speed control with position and torque control. Oriental Motor

AC Drive Takes on Servos
The G7 adjustable-frequency AC drive gets servo performance from induction motors. It has a three-level power architecture at 480 V to eliminate problems with IGBT switching, protect from motor insulation failure, and lower motor noise. The drive is suitable for speed, torque or position control applications. It supports DeviceNet, Profibus-DP, Modbus Plus, and Ethernet Modbus TCP/IP networks. Programming is via DriveWorksEZ software on a PC. Yaskawa
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