Engineers attending the 2006 Motor and Drives Systems Conference in Miami last February had a chance to sit in on two days of tech sessions spanning everything from distributed motion controls with small intelligent servo drives, to a talk on multi-axis drive applications using a common dc bus.
Jacob Hefer of Elmo Motion Control explained the reasons behind Elmo's "in the machine, on the axis, out of the cabinet" approach to motion control with the help of a triangle. At its three apexes he listed processing power, deterministic protocols and network technology, explaining how advances in the three have made bringing power and intelligence nearer to the motion axis possible.
Craig Nelson, of Siemens Energy and Automation, told the audience that replacing mechanical line shafts on printing presses with electrical axes was doubling press speeds while sidestepping such mechanical limitations as maintenance or gearbox resonance. Indeed, electrical axes, needing fewer mechanics around to keep them running while providing more output and faster changeovers could be the very thing that, "saves our bacon," he told the audience. Motion control is done in source code, which is harder to copy than its mechanical equivalent. Being able to change a machine to make another pattern instantly could mean the difference between ordering a small run here in the U.S. with a delivery just in time and ordering a larger lot from a maker in China and waiting on a ship.
Elsewhere at the show, Hitachi National Sales Manager Kevin Tory introduced a new line of Ecoheart PM motors and drives aimed specifically at OEMs who want a custom drive system. High performance magnets and a new winding method allow 10 percent better efficiency compared with standard induction motors, with internal power loss reduced by 50 percent, volume slashed in half and weight reduced by a third.
Martin Winter of Fairchild Semiconductor discussed the company's line of motor drive and power factor correction modules designed for energy savings in appliances.
Ormec's Dennis Morrow introduced the company's latest drive, the SD series, with more front-connected I/O, easier access and tighter stacking. Ormec also brought out its SMLC-SA, a single axis controller/drive that allows machine designers to match processing power to project size.
Four presentations during the show covered precision positioning in motion control markets by Dan Jones of Incremotion Assoc., handling the challenges of market and drives globalization by Frost & Sullivan's Sath Rao, a history of motion control in robotics from 1969 on by Walt Weisel of Innova Holdings, and a four-person panel discussion on the pros and cons of outsourcing motors.