OEMs often receive requests that are just shy of impossible -- boost machine performance; use less floor space; cut costs; and reduce the time associated with machine installation, product changeovers, and equipment repair. This balancing act is a particularly tall order for machine and equipment builders working with large systems, complex wiring, and enclosure constraints.
On-machine motion solutions have helped many OEMs address these seemingly impossible tasks. If you answer yes to one or more of the questions below, then an on-machine solution might be the right answer for you, too.
Is panel space tight?
In traditional architectures, motors are mounted on the machine and wired back to servo drives installed in the control panel. Emerging integrated drive-motor solutions combine motor and drive technology into a compact on-machine package.
The Allen-Bradley Kinetix 6000M integrated drive-motor system can reduce required panel space by up to 40 percent for a typical eight-axis system. In addition, it's rated to the same shock and vibration performance levels as other low-inertia motors, so mounting the drives directly on the machine will save cabinet space while delivering robust motion capability. Transferring the drives from the enclosures to the machine also eliminates the need to develop a cooling system for the enclosure, saving engineering time and reducing energy costs.
Are cables tying you up?
When drives reside in the control panel, OEMs must run two sets of wires from each drive in the enclosure to the motor on the machine. One set of wires provides power, and the other establishes a connection for the error-sensing and corrective feedback that's the hallmark of servo control.
Terminating servo motor power and feedback cables at panel-mounted servo drives can take about 20 minutes per axis. With on-machine servo control, OEMs can accomplish this task in three minutes.
The long wiring runs associated with traditional architectures also make systems more vulnerable to noise coupling. Less wiring equates to fewer wiring errors and fewer points of failure, helping increase overall system reliability. End users can more efficiently isolate problems and replace IO locally, rather than sorting through a complex panel. The result is significantly easier troubleshooting and shorter mean time to repair. By moving industrial hardware on to the machine, wiring costs can be reduced by up to 30 percent, and the time required to wire the system can be cut to one-tenth when compared to traditional systems.
The on-machine drive-motor also makes the system more flexible for future upgrades or changes. When using an integrated drive-motor, the only wiring run required is to the power supply within the enclosure. Any subsequent integrated drive-motors can be easily daisy-chained together, reducing the number of cables exiting the control enclosure by as much as 75 percent. This capability significantly reduces design and assembly time.
Are machine customizations too painful?
OEMs frequently need to customize their standard machine offering to best meet a customer's application needs. Changes can range from a simple request for an added axis of motion to more complex parameters that require a fully customized machine. In a traditional servo system, even seemingly straightforward requests can cause issues. For example, a bottle-labeling customer may want to add axes of motion for secondary packaging operations. To accommodate this request, OEMs would need to add a drive to the cabinet, modify drawings, drill additional holes into the enclosure, and route extra wiring.
With an on-machine integrated drive-motor, panel changes are comparatively simple. Since all integrated drive-motors are connected through daisy-chained wiring, OEMs simply mount another drive to the machine and make one connection to the nearest integrated drive-motor unit. With fewer prints to draw and less layout and connections to worry about, the design, development, and delivery for machine customizations are dramatically reduced.
All told, on-machine motion systems provide the familiar high-performing and reliable motion solutions that your customers know and expect. In addition, they can help you meet your goals through a smaller machine footprint, reduced wiring, and eased design and implementation.
Jim Grosskreuz is a global product manager for Rockwell Automation. He has 27 years of experience in the automation industry, spanning product development engineering, applications engineering, and product management.