Networking is a major priority for new multi-axis machine controllers. In the past few years, high-speed drive networks for high performance motion control have taken center stage as a primary method for precisely coordinating motion and logic control on the same control platform. New offerings are continuing this trend, and offering connectivity for drives, I/O, PLCs and factory data collection systems. The networking solutions are diverse but Ethernet and CAN solutions appear to be the most widely implemented network offerings.
The focus is clearly on machine control, rather than just motion control, so these controllers are more versatile and do more automation control functions than ever before. Software is also an integral piece of the overall system, as suppliers are working to provide integrated development tools to handle programming for motion, I/O and HMIs.
MULTI-AXIS MACHINE CONTROLLER
The Festo SEC-AC-SMLC multi-axis controller is a complete solution for motion, logic, and I/O control. The SMLC provides hardware and software building blocks engineered to plug together and work as a system. The unit controls up to a maximum of 16 axes, and features the ServoWire Drive Network and Modbus UDP communications for I/O and motion control programmed using the CoDeSys IEC 61131-3 standard languages. Intel 32-bit processors run the QNX RTOS and provide computing power for even the most demanding multi-axis motion and I/O control applications. A flexible approach to machine I/O requirements includes a unique ability to interface with high-speed drive based I/O. General purpose I/O options are fully supported using Modbus UDP (Festo CPX-FEC). A variety of analog and digital I/O modules as well as valves can be interfaced and controlled by the SEC-AC-SMLC. Variants with integrated Profibus Master (for up to 16 axes) are also available.
MACHINE CONTROLLER AND MOTIONWORKS SOFTWARE
The MP2200 machine controller and MotionWorks Version 6 software from Yaskawa Electric offer a solution for synchronizing sequence and motion control in one tightly integrated platform. Position, speed, torque and phase control such as electronic gearing and electronic cam profiles are available for complex motion. The Mechatrolink-II high speed motion network is used to control Sigma II and Sigma III amplifiers, inverters and I/O blocks at 10 Mbps. Rotary, linear, and direct drive servomotors are available in 110, 230, and 480V ac options. The MP2200 controller can be configured to reduce setup time by automatically recognizing networked amplifiers and option modules, and provides a configurable rack system with 9 slots. Other new features include a 233 MHz CPU, removable Compact Flash memory, USB serial interface, and the ability to control up to 256 axes. MotionWorks programs can be written in a combination of three IEC 61131-3 style languages: ladder logic, structured text and function blocks.
ETHERNET POWERLINK MACHINE CONTROLLER
The NextMove e100 Ethernet Powerlink machine controller from Baldor offers a real-time core that can control over 200 devices including drives, encoders, I/O, and gateways. Up to 16 of these devices can be interpolated axes. The controller provides machine control and connectivity features including onboard analog and digital I/O and a USB port for simple connection to PC hosts supported by free ActiveX support tools. The controller can interface three traditional analog-controlled servo axes and four stepper or open loop axes for maximum system design flexibility, and an option to remain with conventional control technology if Ethernet versions are not available. A CANopen interface provides a low-cost means to add local or remote I/O or other components, and is supported by the decision of the EPL group to use CANopen device profiles. Users have the option of controlling any loosely coordinated axes using the DS402 positioning drive profile.
CONTROLLER/DRIVER INCLUDES ETHERNET AND CAN
QuickSilver Controls is offering low cost network support with its newest single axis controller/driver. The SilverDust IG8 offers communication options including RS232, RS485, CAN and Ethernet. A multi-channel architecture allows field devices using CAN to work simultaneously with a supervisory network using RS232, RS485 or Ethernet. The controller is designed to servo the companyís high torque NEMA 17 and NEMA 23 frame I-grade step motor/encoders, and includes breakouts for power, communications and I/O. Closed loop control of a step motor provides the high accuracy at a low cost and with superior torque for applications up to 2,000 rpm. The IG8 uses a single cable for both motor and encoder signals. At 50 ft the cable has minimal voltage drop and excellent noise rejection. Other IG8 features include 12-48V dc input power, a built-In voltage clamp and power resistor to dissipate excess power generated during rapid decelerations and eight 5-24V dc, isolated, bi-directional I/O.
NEXT GENERATION MAESTRO CONTROLLER
Elmo Motion Control has announced the latest release of its Maestro multi-axis supervisor with new features and a fuller command set. Maestro is a network-based, multi-axis motion supervisor that operates in conjunction with intelligent servo drives to provide a full multi-axis motion control solution. The new version includes firmware which supports the DS305 configuration protocol, DS401 CAN network IO integration protocol and the DS402 motion control protocol. It can also be integrated with CAN network IO using the DS401 protocol. The product is based on a distributed motion control architecture which allocates tasks to the drives which they perform autonomously. Maestro operates as an Ethernet-CAN gateway as well as a full motion controller, and has two CAN ports. Each port can handle up to 64 axes. Other ports enable it to handle up to 16 digital inputs, 16 digital outputs and four analog inputs.
MOTION/DISTRIBUTED CONTROL FOR SMALLER APPLICATIONS
The Allen-Bradley CompactLogix 1768-L43 controller from Rockwell Automation brings integrated motion and distributed control capabilities to smaller applications. Controlling up to four axes of motion, the controller is targeted for material handling, packaging, metal forming and other applications requiring speed, motion synchronization and information-sharing capabilities in a small, modular footprint. A SERCOS adapter module is available for interfacing SERCOS drives and an optional 1768-ENBT communication module provides EtherNet/IP communications for plant-wide control. The CompactLogix controller supports a full range of networks including DeviceNet, ControlNet and EtherNet/IP to enable flow of information from devices up through the enterprise business system. The controller supports the 38 embedded motion instructions and pre-loaded motion parameters currently offered on the ControlLogix controllers. Removable CompactFlash memory can be used as a program and firmware storage area, providing the user with the ability to archive projects that can be loaded to multiple controllers.