Essential Components, Devices Keep Motion Control Systems Moving

Elements Such as Actuators, Ball Screws, Cylinders and Positioners Are Crucial for Success

By Rick Pedraza

Though final control elements such as actuators, ball screws, cylinders and positioners aren’t the sexiest parts of machine automation, they nonetheless are the crucial nuts and bolts of motion control systems that keep things moving.

However, like most essential components and devices, not much changes in the way of new and exciting technological innovations from year to year. Products that offer optional mounting configurations, multiple axes, the lure of improved productivity and accelerated speeds at lower costs are introduced as new to the marketplace. However, a closer look reveals not much new when it comes to operating motors and drives.

SEE ALSO: Motion Control Components and System Architecture

Despite this trend, the North American market for motion control components and products was estimated at a whopping $81 billion, including more than $50 billion for MRO use and nearly $31 billion in purchases by industrial OEMs, according to statistics released in December 2005 by the Power Transmission Distributors Assn. (PTDA).

In 2005, U.S. manufacturers' sales of motion control components increased 9.6% compared to sales for 2004, according to the PTDA's Market Outlook Report. In December 2005, sales fell 9.1% from the previous month, and decreased 2.1% compared to December 2004. Compared to November, sales of mounted bearings, standard industrial motors, variable speed drives and shaft couplings increased. Sales of unmounted bearings, positioning systems/linear motion products, gear products, mechanical drive systems and other PT products, and clutches and brakes decreased.

Statistics provided by the report show year-to-date orders of motion control components from U.S. manufacturers grew 11.2% compared to 2004. December orders were down 9.1% over November and decreased 0.7% compared to December 2004.

Research provided by Frost & Sullivan says a growing price competition among manufacturers in the North American motion control components markets "spurs end users to increasingly base purchasing decisions on cost alone." In a bid to keep expenses at a minimum, many manufacturers are "trying to increase the number of production process that can be completed by factory automation, thereby driving demand for motion control products," the report claims.

The Power Transmission Group says suppliers are under pressure to continue offering competitively priced new technology products. "Technical expertise, understanding of customer demands across a wide range of applications, and an emphasis on improving performance are vital for manufacturers to compete effectively in this market sector," the report states.

Cantilever Alone
DGEA cantilever electric linear actuator comes in two mounting configurations in sizes 18, 25, and 40 mm. The motor is mounted parallel to the actuator with the integrated right-angle gearbox, eliminating obstructions and installation space. It has speeds to 3 m/sec, repeatability of ±0.05 mm, and stroke lengths to 1,000 mm.
Festo
(800) 99-FESTO

Robo Cylinders
RCP2-RSW robo cylinder is IP65-rated, 45-mm wide, with a load capacity of 40 kg (horizontal)/19 kg (vertical). RCP2-RMW is 64 mm wide with a load capacity of 55 kg (horizontal)/26kg (vertical). Both have strokes 50-300 mm, speeds can be changed during slider/rod movement, and positioning repeatability is ±0.02 mm.
IAI America
(800) 944-0333

Higher Ground Speed
Long-lead ball screws integrate a nut rotating inside the bearings and along the fixed screw shaft. It has linear speeds to 110 m/min, angular contact bearings directly mounted on the nut and preloaded in an "O" configuration, a fixed screw shaft for simplified mounting, two all-metal seals to protect the support bearings and nut from contaminants, and brush wipers mounted in the ball screw in standard configuration for additional protection.
SKF Linear Motion & Precision Technologies
(800) 541-3624

Convey Control
UBT controller can be configured for merge, divert or transfer mode through a serial port, plugs into the line where needed and can interface directly with DeviceNet. ZoneLink serial interface card allows distributed controllers to communicate with each other and configure and monitor a zero pressure accumulation conveyor line.
Holjeron
(412) 665-2488

Rack-and-Pinion Steering
Linear actuator system has positioning accuracy below 12 µm for high-end machine building applications. Constant, high rigidity is achieved over the complete travel distance. Applications include the printing, packaging, food processing, machining and medical industries.
Alpha Gear Drives
(630) 540-5341

Perform Under Pressure
PowerMax tie-rod type hydraulic cylinders have heat-treated shafts and precision machined pistons and caps for extended cylinder life. Series PML cylinders provide working pressure to 2,500 psi, Series PMH cylinders to 3000 psi. It has a ductile iron rod clevis threaded 360° for a full contact area, and a positive set screw locking device helps the cylinders withstand continuous high loads.
Delavan Ag Pumps
(866) 335-2826

Assume the Position
Promech LP28 linear positioners come assembled and tested, With a cross section of 28x28 mm, they position payloads up to 10 lbs. Several linear bearing options and screw lead and motor size options are available. The positioner also can be fitted with a strip seal and home and limit sensors.
Parker Hannifin
(800) 245-6903

Precise Control
Dyla-Trols inline flow controls provide smooth laminar air or oil flow, maximum precision adjustment, and accurate control of cylinder motion. Fast resetting and repeatability is deigned to fine tune the speed of cylinders with precise metering. Precise metering valves help fine tune the speed of cylinders.
Mead Fluid Dynamics
(773) 685-6800

Resist the Build-Up
AZ-2000 timing belt drive resists dust and other airborne contaminants. The oad carriage features plastic slide bearings and has a travel speed to 1.5 m/sec depending on the payload. The load carriage measures 150x100 mm and has pre-drilled and tapped payload mounting holes. The drive will accept downward payload forces to 90 N and has a repeatability of +/- 0.2 mm over travel spans of 2,000 mm. Multiple sections can be joined to accommodate longer travel requirements.
Amacoil
(610) 485-8300

Motion and More
CompactLogix 1768-L43 controller with 1768-M04SE motion module handles four axes of motion for material handling, packaging, metal forming and applications requiring speed, motion synchronization and information-sharing capabilities in a small, modular footprint. It combines motion and sequential control in a single, integrated multitasking platform, and supports DeviceNet, ControlNet and EtherNet/IP.
Rockwell Automation
(800) 223-5354

Flexible Motion
S2K series of steppers, digital servos and motion controllers provide high performance distributed solutions for general machinery automation OEMs and end users. System components include a stand-alone machine controller and servo/stepper amplifier; network capabilitye (DeviceNet, Profibus, ModBus RTU); on-board analog and digital I/O; a multi-tasking operating system; electronic gearing and cam profiling; and high speed registration input.
GE Fanuc
(800) GE-FANUC

Going Solo
Soloist single-axis servo controller combines power supply, amplifier, and position controller in a single system. The unit can control up to four tasks simultaneously, handle variables and manage I/O, and has high-speed position latch inputs and data logging capabilities. HMI software provides a platform for controlling the entire process. The controller uses a digital servo loop with feedforward to tightly track velocity and position trajectories.
Aerotech
(412) 963-7470 

Move the Bus
Accelera Series DMC-18x6 PCI bus motion controller features a 32-bit RISC-based, clock multiplying processor with DSP functionality. It accepts encoder inputs up to 22 MHz, servo update rates as low as 24 ms per axis, and command execution speeds as low as 40 ms. One to eight-axis formats are available, each user-configurable for stepper or servo motor operation, enabling the user to mix-and-match motor types. Features include advanced PID compensation, velocity feedforward, acceleration feedforward, integrator limits, notch filter, low-pass filter, and backlash compensation.
Galil Motion Control
(800) 377-6329

Time to Unwind
CX 1102 two-axis unwind/dancer/wind controller calculates diameters automatically for constant line speed. The controller uses axle drive motors and encoders; has built-in automated dancer load/unload sequences; works with AC, DC, vector, or servo drives; and uses a moving dancer trim signal to trim either axle. The system includes a multi-line display, a built-in PLC, signal isolation, menu and help screens.
Contrex
(763) 424-7800

Maximum Flexibility
IndraMotion control system offers real-time motion control with an IEC 61131-3 compliant PLC, application-specific technology functions, and PLCopen motion function blocks scaled across three hardware platforms. Up to 64 controllers can be networked via cross-communication to provide synchronization of an entire line or process. Controller base modules can be expanded with additional communication interfaces or technology modules. Features include 100 Mbps Ethernet onboard, removable CompactFlash memory and 16 Mbps SERCOS support.
Bosch Rexroth
(800) REXROTH