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William K.
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Startup and setup of traditional servos
William K.   8/22/2011 9:59:55 AM
This is a good question, apparently posed by one who has not participated in such a project previously. The startup and setup of a servo system in a first-off machine, such as assorted industrial machines that are essentially custome built for a specific operation, depends on quite a few variables. The very first element of startup is the verification that all of the connections are correct, and that all of the sensors signals are of the correct polarity for the application. this often is done at the same time as the initial power-up and run, where a servo package is manually controlled to drive to the extreme ands of motion so that these limits may be set. After limts are set so that the servo will only drive where it should, an attempt to run the desired motion profile at a reduced speed is made, with attention being concentrated on accuracy and performance, looking for any instability. During this time the velocity is normally increased and proportional and derivative gain are increased to approach the intended performance, normally measured in terms of cycle time and accuracy. After the goals of required cycle time at specified accuracy are reached, there is usually some experimentation done to see how close to instability the system is, as well as checking to verify actual accuracy and repeatability. Integral gain may be needed in order to assure continued accuracy of position or velocity. 

Presuming that the rest of the system, including all of the mechanical portions, do not need modification, the whole procedure may run from a half hour up to several hours, with the length of time depending primarily on the effort needed to verify that the system is accurate and stable.

One of the challenges new with digital servo controls is the different ways that the variables such as dirivative and integral gain terms can be done. Different algorithms can provide functionality that is very different from what traditional analog implementations of classical servo theory would describe. This is an area where manufacturers documentation makes a great deal of difference.

TJ McDermott
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Re: Nice to have or have to have?
TJ McDermott   8/19/2011 3:40:11 PM
It would be nice to not have to deal with maintaining software versions for the life of the product line.  That is a big hassle.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Nice to have or have to have?
Rob Spiegel   8/19/2011 11:30:57 AM
Yep, Beth, installation is an issue. It usually involves service companies and vendors and lots of time. In recent years, automation vendors have worked to make installation easier, less time consuming and ultimately less expensive. Thus the big emphasis on these new devices on how simple they are to deploy.

Beth Stackpole
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Nice to have or have to have?
Beth Stackpole   8/19/2011 11:04:55 AM
How taxing and time consuming is the set-up process associated with traditional servo and stepper technology? Is this a common pain point for engineers?

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