Motors / Drives

Motion-control flexibility and functionality

Integrated-servo-motor solution offers performance and design benefits for mobile robots and machine builders

By Dave Perkon, technical editor

A new series of integrated motors provides greater design modularity and simplicity for a wide range of applications, including automated guided vehicles (AGVs), autonomous mobile robots (AMRs), packaging machinery and specialty machines. The MDX integrated servo motor was developed to meet the growing demand from machine designers and control engineers for motion-control flexibility and functionality.

"Combining the servo motor and the motor’s electronic controller into a single housing, MDX integrated servo motors eliminate the need to connect motor power and feedback cables to an external motor controller," says Eric Rice, national marketing director at Applied Motion Products. "Eliminating these bulky cables frees space in the robot or machine to accommodate other critical components, such as material-handling mechanisms, sensors, additional axes of motion or operator-interface components."

Many types of autonomous and semi-autonomous mobile robots are used in smart factories. "MDX integrated servo motors are a better solution than brushed dc and ac induction motors for the electric motors that power the main drive motors for forward/ reverse motion, as well as the material-handling axes for accurate lifting, clamping and engagement of the payload during transfer to different locations," says Rice. "MDX integrated servo motors provide more accurate speed control and positioning than ac induction motors, without brushes to wear out."

Packaging- and specialty-machine builders benefit from the integrated servos by reducing panel space and enabling more flexible mounting options for the motion-control axes, continues Rice. "Integrated motors can be mounted anywhere non-integrated servo motors can be mounted, without the need for routing bulky cables back to the panel where external motor controllers are mounted," he says. "The smaller-diameter cables required by integrated servo motors, including dc power, communications and I/O, are easier to route and take up less space. Daisy-chaining communications cables from one integrated motor to the next frees additional space in the control panel by reducing the size of network switches and hubs."

State of Technology Report: Motors, Drives and Motion 2018

Much of the intelligence is at the motor. "MDX integrated servo motors house the control electronics at the back, near the feedback device," says Rice. "No other external electronics package is required to drive or control the motor. Connectors for power, communications and I/O are also positioned near the back of the motor, grouped together on one surface. Command signals from the robot or machine’s central processing unit can be wired directly to the integrated servo motor."

The motors are currently offered in two power ratings, 200 and 400 W continuous output power, both in the 60-mm frame size. The motors are optimized for use on 48 Vdc but can also be run at 24 Vdc or at up to 60 Vdc to match supply voltages already present in the system.

Onboard communication protocols include CANopen, Modbus RTU and Applied Motion Products’ Serial Command Language (SCL), a simple and easy-to-use protocol that is streamlined for motion control. "Ethernet protocols EtherNet/IP, Modbus TCP and SCL over Ethernet are coming soon," says Rice. "Discrete I/O interfaces like pulse-and-direction are also available. Regardless of the command interface, the form factor of the integrated servo motor does not change. Every unit features dual-port communications for flexible network connections including daisy chain."

Two environmental ratings are available, IP65 and IP20. "IP65-rated motors, the most popular version, include M12 connectors for all connection points," says Rice. "IP20-rated motors feature pluggable connectors to save cost in high-volume, price-sensitive applications."

By eliminating a physical component from the motion-control axis, in this case, the external servo drive, MDX integrated servo motors enable faster design cycles, particularly when fitting various motors, actuators and other system components into a tightly constrained space. "Designers can focus less on the placement and wiring of the motor controller and more on non-motor system components for faster design iterations," says Rice. "MDX integrated servo motors benefit the control engineer in many areas by reducing the number of components in the system, eliminating bulky cables, freeing valuable space, simplifying the bill of materials, enabling faster design cycles and saving money."

The MDX integrated servo motor runs stored programs created using Q programming, which incorporates commands for various kinds of motion, I/O control and machine sequencing, as well as math functions that enable users to create complex motion profiles and control algorithms, says Rice.

Celebrating 40 years in business, Applied Motion Products’ vision is to make life easier by connecting people to motion, says Rice. "We do this by specializing in high-precision, cost-effective motion control products with a focus on providing exceptional value to customers," he says. "The company serves a diverse industrial and OEM customer base with both standard and customized products. With in-depth motor and control expertise, Applied Motion Products partners with engineers from initial concept and design through finished product and production to provide the best motion control solution possible."

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