In a growing number of applications spanning a variety of regions and power ranges, multiple servo drives are being linked together in digital networks, according to a recently published study.
Entitled "Servo Drives Worldwide Outlook," the study tries to identify market trends and forecast future developments affecting servo drives in the CNC and general-purpose motion control markets. The study was produced by ARC Advisory Group, which provides analysis of manufacturing, logistics, and supply chain issues.
While preparing the study, ARC looked at the shift from analog to digitally networked servo drives in different regions and power ranges. "We see networking technology happening all over the market," reports ARC research director Sal Spada, the study's author. That includes the low-power market segment, where drive buyers are particularly cost sensitive. According to Spada, these buyers are being enticed by commercially available components that are driving down the price of networking.
In all market segments, Spada notes, digital networking speeds up the diagnosis of drive problems, helping users get faulty equipment back online with less maintenance time. Networking also allows rapid adjustments to system changes during operation. For example, a machine can quickly compensate for an operational change that's causing wear in a ball screw. "That's a big kick, because it may allow you to push out the machine's maintenance cycle," Spada says.
In addition, Spada's study predicts a larger market for commercially available servo drives in the sub-kilowatt range. According to Spada, demand for these drives will surge as more machine builders outsource engineering work. "If you have an in-house engineering staff, you can probably design a drive that works in the sub-kilowatt range," he says. But as cost-conscious companies trim their engineering staffs, "we're expecting that this will cause a large pickup in the purchase of off-the-shelf drives."
Priced at $3900, the "Servo Drives Worldwide Outlook" study can be purchased at ARC's website (www.arcweb.com).