A key problem for machine/motion controllers has always been what it takes to integrate an effective control solution. Systems engineering resources are scarce, space in the control cabinet is at a premium and minimizing system connections and time-to-build systems is a priority.
As a result, one approach control manufacturers are using to simplify the integration process is to build the drives into the controller package. Most of the advantages are obvious. The system interconnections are part of the product, and testing is handled by the controls manufacturer. And because the drives are part of the product design, and a keen eye is always on limiting the footprint of the controller, manufacturers are carefully designing the drives into the package to save space. The result is solutions that require much less cabinet space for the controls and drives, fewer field wiring connections and the inherent advantages of buying a fully tested, standard product.
SIX AXES IN COMPACT, INTEGRATED PACKAGE
The Ensemble Epaq from Aerotech provides up to six axes of motion control in one integrated, stand-alone package. The controller can daisy chain three extra drives and command up to nine axes of coordinated motion under program control. This configuration allows users to seamlessly mix and match drive types (linear versus PWM, brush or brushless, stepper) within the same positioning system using a common programming and control platform. Multiple units can be controlled from one Windows PC through Ethernet or USB. Optional on-board encoder interpolation offers the user programmable axis resolution, and the ability to change interpolation values through software. The controller uses a 225 MHz double precision, floating-point DSP for performance in applications including point-to-point motion, linear and circular interpolation. It offers multi-axis error correction, 2D error mapping, direct commutation of linear and rotary brushless servomotors and on-board servo autotuning. The system features high-speed position latching and a single-axis position synchronized output.
INTEGRATED MOTION AND MACHINE CONTROLLER
The BX-300 from Berkeley Process Control is the newest of a series of space saving, highly integrated motion-and-machine controllers employed in applications as diverse as nuclear medicine and semiconductor manufacturing. The BX controller offers internally powered servo drives, an expandable 100 Mbit Ethernet I/O system, scalable serial ports and an object based development environment. The controller provides control of servomotors, actuators, multi-axis robots, slides and process elements. By unifying the control of an entire machine or module, the controller maximizes throughput and reliability while dramatically reducing total system cost and integration effort. The controller is available in configurations of up to eight axis of control and six internally powered brushed or brushless servo drives. With more than four times the compute power of its predecessor, automation throughput is not captive to motion controller capability. Enhanced internal drive circuitry broadens the spectrum of off-the-shelf motors and robots directly supported.
HIGH SPEED ACCELERA CONTROLLERS
The Accelera series motion controllers from Galil Motion Control offer a powerful, 32-bit RISC-based microcomputer that delivers higher speeds and more processing power than previous generation controllers. The new controllers accept encoder inputs at frequencies up to 22 MHz, provide servo update rates as high as 32 kHz and execute program instructions within 40 µsec. The DMC-40x0 is a packaged, full-featured motion controller that operates in a standalone configuration or interfaced to a PC via an Ethernet 10/100Base-T or RS232 port. The controller is available packaged with multi-axis drives which eliminates the need for external, separate drives and minimizes wiring. The first multi-axis drive product for the DMC-40x0 is the AMP-43040, a 4-axis amplifier for driving brush or brushless servo motors up to 500W. Future product releases will include drives for stepper motors. The DMC-40x0 comes in one-through eight-axis formats and lets the user purchase only the number of axes required.