Ease of Use Takes Center Stage- Easy to use. It's the number one priority of motion control customers and the number one mandate for motion control suppliers. And by necessity, ease of use must provide solutions to the growing set of complexities that motion control applications require. That is the heart of the problem. New solutions must not only simplify system architectures, speed software development, and enable new factory connectivity, but also deal with improving motion performance, drive and motor configuration, installation, maintenance, diagnostics, and support.
When Less can be More-It isn't unusual to see big, fat cables and connectors occupying valuable real estate in the vast spaces of an automated factory. One way some companies are combating the maze is by turning to distributed control as the technology of choice when it comes to motion control. Also known as decentralized motion control, distributed control systems places control at or near the actual location of the motor installation, rather than in a centralized control cabinet. All of the control systems linked to the motor, including the disconnect switches, motor brake control, and bus communications, are installed on or near the motor rather than in a central cabinet. Eliminated are the long rows of control cabinets with complex wiring, expansive space requirements and long distances between control cabinet and motors.
Motion Control Standards Evolve-Is it too many standards or not enough? That is the question. Whether or not you include de facto industry standards and communication standards as part of motion control will determine the answer. Standards and application guidance can come from numerous sources. While communication methods have their place in motion control, they're just as vital in other sectors of automation and control. More at the core of motion control are evolving standards based on overall system architectures-whether centralized or distributed. Lately, distributed architecture has drawn most attention, due to advances in digital technology that allow local embedding of intelligence and other benefits.
Open for Business- Proprietary machine controls, those monster-sized black box hardware-software packages that come standard on most machine tools, have one major drawback: they don't play well with others, making it difficult to mix and match them with other systems on the shop floor. In a quest for more flexible machine controls, some machine tool builders and their customers are turning to open systems like OpenCNC from MDSI. Unlike proprietary control systems, OpenCNC runs on a standard PC, doesn't require proprietary hardware or a motion control card, and allows ready access to the machine's data.