Ask just about any motion control supplier about their products nowadays, and you’ll likely hear the word “integration.”
These suppliers argue that higher levels of integration amongst motors, drives, controllers and even mechanical components make motion systems easier — and less costly — to design and implement. Is that just hype? No, judging from the breadth of useful products riding on the integrated solutions bandwagon.
Take motors, for instance. Suppliers are increasingly packaging them with a gearbox, feedback device and brake. There has likewise been an ongoing trend to combine motors and drives in a single package — sometimes with the control electronics. Controllers also foster their share of integration as their growing processing power allows them to handle more control, networking and HMI tasks.
In the pages that follow, you’ll see plenty of product examples that show the different kinds of motor, drive and controller integration.
The same goes for automation software. It, too, is moving toward increasing levels of integration — in the form of programming tools that allow users to tackle every aspect of their machine — and motion-control projects within a unified development environment.
While increasing levels of integration amongst motors, drives and controllers is important, it’s not the only thing going on in motion control. Our contributing editors have scoured the entire motion control landscape looking for the latest and greatest products. So you’ll also read about intelligent drives, motors with higher power densities, high-tech industrial sensors and encoders that handle high speeds and tough operating conditions.
Finally, this look at key motion components wouldn’t be complete without linear actuators, ball screws and assorted mechanical components that round out any motion control system.
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