The goal for motion control in packaging plants is greater agility and higher productivity. New technology needs to be flexible, with rapid changeover, and lower lifecycle machinery costs. Automation solutions must have smaller footprints and modular subsections. The automation components must radically reduce the wiring components and electrical cabinetry on packaging machines.
It wasn’t long ago that virtually every OEM employed the “erector set” approach to motion control system deployment for the machinery. In particular, the motion control solution in many instances relied on multiple suppliers for the servo motor, servo drive and motion controller. There was a period of time when taking on the integration responsibility of a multi-vendor component solution resulted in a lower initial cost, but the overall lifecycle costs can be much higher as the engineering design team is required to support this long past the shipment date. Support, service, and engineering changes continue for over a decade in most cases. Meanwhile, automation suppliers have developed automation solutions which have matured into integrated, pre-configured platforms that enable the OEM to purchase off the shelf automation controller, power supply, servo drive, motor, and cabling all from a single source. The impetus is to lower the total design costs for OEMs.
iSH technology is providing machinery builders an alternative to designing large, free standing control cabinets with unwieldy cabling interconnections. The goal is to install all of the components within the machine envelope, thereby reducing if not eliminating the electrical cabinet. The core of this architecture relies on physically integrating the latest semiconductor power components of the servo drive directly onto the motor frame. The power supply is now a shared resource rather than a dedicated resource for each drive.
Control cabinets are becoming distributed or simply eliminated as controls decrease in size and mechatronic designs open up space in machine cavities. Modular motion control systems that radically reduce cabling provide a solution when seeking to lower the cost of building machinery.
Machinery can be delivered with much less cabinet space along with easier maintenance of the drive and motor components when service is needed. Instead of disconnecting multiple wires and removing a drive from a cabinet, a single snap-fit quick-connect cable connector and four mounting bolts are removed, separating the servo module from the machine frame.
No motor feedback cables run back to the cabinet, and one cable drop to each module integrating power, I/O, and synchronized motion replaces three separate cables. The drive and motor for the network are compensated digitally. They are matched and serialized at the factory to eliminate nonlinearities.
The design of proprietary computing platforms and integration of the actuators and sensors are generally not considered value-adding activities in OEM engineering operations. Machine builders are realigning their core competency on solving application-specific problems in their domain.
It is clear that engineering each and every element of the machine is no longer a best practice in this business. This is simply wasteful in terms of the way engineering resources are used. With packaging machinery’s strong predilection toward motion control architectures, many automation and specialized motion control suppliers continue to expand product lines and seek cost reductions to allow machine builders to continue to cost-justify motion control. However, simply trying to take cost out of an existing drive and motor design has finally approached the limit in most products on the market.
Consequently, there are some marginal cost advantages in these solutions, but much of this is lost because the motor must be oversized for the application because of heat dissipation. Currently, the dominant share of integral drive and motor product lines are under 1KW in power, indicating the difficulty in dissipating heat in these tight mechanical configurations. The relatively low power range of these products limits the domain of applications for these products. The modularity of the system allows for an optional Safety module to be added.
Information for this article provided by ARC Advisory Group.
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With more than 27 years of experience in automation technology, ELAU AG is one of the most experienced players in the industry. In 1994 ELAU focused its resources exclusively on the automation of machines for the consumer packaged goods industries. With the right technology, skills and always supporting open architectures, ELAU has become the world’s largest and fastest growing automation supplier for packaging machinery – and beyond.
With the introduction of its PacDrive automation system with integrated motion/logic control in 1998, ELAU set the world automation standard for machines in the consumer packaged goods industries. Today, PacDrive automation systems control more than 30,000 of the best machines worldwide – with thousands of new installations every year. Thanks to ELAU’s global application support, 24/7 service and logistical networks, machines with PacDrive can be readily commissioned and maintained anywhere in the world.
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Filed Under: Packaging, Drives (servo) + amplifiers, Motion control • motor controls, Motors • servo