Baldor Electric Corp. rolled out an Ethernet-connected multi-axis drive this week that could provide real-time, deterministic operation for factories that need control of multiple machines. The drive was displayed on the show floor at National Manufacturing Week here in Chicago, IL.
Known as the MotiFlex e100, the new drive integrates Baldor’s real-time Powerlink Ethernet control and can simultaneously handle servo motors, vector motors and stepper motors, said John Mazurkiewicz of Baldor. The drive operates between 1.5A and 16A with flexible overload ratings.
“You can coordinate with many motors and have Ethernet communications,” Mazurkiewicz said. “And with Ethernet you get a deterministic real-time signal and that’s important for motion control.”
Determinism ensures that a controller will react to critical signals, such as emergency stops on transfer lines, without delay.
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For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.