Integrated Motors Simplify Motion Control

With machines getting more robust, smaller, less expensive and more reliable, engineers are facing the challenges of designing newer types of motion control. One way of addressing such motion control challenges, without being an expert in mechatronics is to use integrated motion control systems. Typically, these solutions combine the motor, the drive and the system components within a single unit. The system components include the intelligence or motion controller and input outputs all onboard. The use of an integrated solution allows the designer to focus more on the development of the machine and less on solving compatibility issues between various system components. The integrated motion system usually has all the components within a complete unit and sized for proper use. The decision to use an integrated motion system or an integrated motor usually depends on several factors. Major among them are requirements based on machine size, cost, reliability, modularity and distributed control.

With integrated motors, engineers can reduce the amount of space a machine needs. This is mainly the result of consolidation of components resulting in elimination of cabling. For example, an integrated motor may replace a drive and motor housed in separate enclosures, eliminating one of the enclosures. The panel space required reduces significantly for an integrated motor, while for a multi-axis system the real estate reduction can be substantial. However, an existing machine design must contain adequate space to house the integrated motor as this type of motor is larger than conventional motors.

Using integrated motors results in definite cost savings in contrast to using conventional components. One of the major saving in expenses comes from the absence of cabling that is no longer required with integrated motors. For example, the conventional drive may be located in a centralized cabinet with the motor a distance away on a long conveying machine. This arrangement needs considerable power cabling and feedback wiring between the motor and the drive. With the integrated motor, the drive being directly on the motor, much of the cabling is eliminated contributing to cost reduction.

With improvements in motor technology, the concern with reliability in integrated motors is outdated. The major point of concern earlier was heat buildup and dissipation. With reduced components making up the system, the reliability of integrated motors has improved because of the lower number of wire connections used. Better construction technology has improved the efficiency, decreasing the heat generated and the need for dissipation.

Industrial automation today requires modular machines. That essentially means smaller machines focusing on singular tasks combined to form a bigger system responsible for multiple functions. The smaller machines may operate independent of each other. This arrangement is beneficial because it allows engineers to change on modular section and transform the system into another customized machine. The modular concept is beneficial in shipping individual modules to the factory floor as the motor and drive of the integrated motor is placed directly in the machine.

As more and more industrial control is through PLC or Programmable Logic Controls, motor operations and synchronization through digital data signals is the norm. Since each integrated motor has its own controller, a distributed control system provides faster response and greater accuracies.