Product Review

Nov. 26, 2008
Motion Controller Software Suite Praised

By Dan Hebert, Senior Technical Editor

ACS Motion Control develops and manufactures advanced multi-axis motion controllers and integrated control modules. Its products are used in packaging, printing, robotics, linear stage control, semiconductor manufacturing and testing, electronic assembly and testing, medical imaging and advanced digital printing industries.

This product review focuses on the SPiiPlus CM control module—a high performance multi-axis motion controller with integrated digital drives. The module controls up to eight axes and has a 20 kHz deterministic sampling rate independent of the number of axes.

Powerful I/O handling with advanced PLC capabilities is a key feature of the product, along with an ACSPL multi-tasking and programming language. The module is supplied with a full suite of software tools for setup, tuning, application development and troubleshooting.

The module has been in production since 2002.

“We’ve been using the module for more than five years and like its very-good servo performance, control tools for servo loop tuning and powerful software features,” says Daniel Kopilevich, engineer with the R&D display division of Orbotech. Orbotech uses the module in machines that test flat-panel displays.

Orbotech is pleased with the module’s performance, and in the future would like to see an increase in driver power to expand the range of module applications in its machines.

Schneeberger designs, manufactures and integrates high-precision positioning systems for semiconductor, flat-panel display, solar and other high-tech industries. “Since 2002, we have used the ACS control module in applications where a compact and cost -efficient controller with medium to high current output is needed and the number of axes is less than or equal to three,” comments Manuel Montilla, systems integration engineer with Schneeberger. “For other applications with more axes or where linear servo drivers are needed, we use custom controllers designed in conjunction with ACS,” notes Montilla.

“We like the module’s ease-of-use and its support of many advanced motion control features. The software tools make it simple to set up and run a servo axis in a couple of minutes, and the programming language is very powerful and easy to learn. The controller has advanced features that only a few of its competitors can offer,” adds Montilla.

Montilla would like to see ACS offer more options for advanced users to customize servo algorithms, a bigger variety of servo amplifiers including linear drivers and Fieldbus master functionality, such as EtherCat, Powerlink or Sercos III, for adding remote drives.

Rich Lowman is a controls engineer at Methode Electronic Controls. Methode uses the ACS control module in high-end automated systems consisting of dual x-y positioning resistance weld heads mounted over multi-nested turn tables capable of making 50 welds per nest. Methode has been using the module for about one year.

“We use the ACS control module because it combines multi-axis control and programmable expandable I/O control in a single package at a good price,” observes Lowman. In terms of features, the main improvement he’d like is the addition of a real-time clock.

“We have been using the control for the past year in a 24/7 production environment with no reliability issues,” concludes Lowman. “Support during the design and implementation was good, with fast and knowledgeable software and technical advice obtained over the phone from our distributor.”

RDN Manufacturing makes post extrusion equipment including fly knifes, cutters, puller/cutters and servo table traveling saws. They have used the ACS module for two years now. “We like the module’s quick response time, accurate servo loop control and capability to control up to three axes,” says Jim Klapperich, director of engineering at RDN. “We also like being able to run open-loop vector, closed-loop vector or servo motors with same unit.”

Klapperich adds that “the module has been rock solid electrically, especially the flash memory, which has not scrambled or lost one program. The service has also been great, with ACS and their local distributor staying on the phone with us until 2:15 a.m. on one occasion to walk us through a tuning issue.”

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