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Reduce the cost of servo motors


Reduce the cost of servo motors

The use of PC-based control software, EtherCAT network, integrated drive and single-cable technology for configuration can simplify the design of the motion control system and reduce the cost of the servo motors.

Whether it is a retrofit project or a new application, selecting and installing the best servo motors is not a simple task. Any upgrade usually requires adjustments to the drive, gearbox, encoder, and other components in contact with the motor. Programming and configuring each servo drive individually will also increase debugging time and unnecessary costs.


The new servo technology simplifies these processes and unleashes the potential advantages provided by synchronous servo motion control. In addition to supporting configuration through PC-based control software, the new servo system also provides other key functions, such as servo motors with direct integrated drives, single-cable connections, and on-board safety functions. The greater simplification and flexibility in the design of the motion control system reduces the purchase cost of the servo motors, which makes it a strong competitive advantage of the motion architecture.


Setup and flexibility

With the help of PC-based automation software and EtherCAT industrial Ethernet function, multiple servo motors can be configured through a simple engineering process. This software is used to scan and configure drives, without the need to connect cables from the laptop to each drive for configuration.


An EtherCAT-enabled network can provide the high bandwidth and high performance required for drive configuration. It is even possible to use dedicated software usually used for specific vendors via the EtherCAT fieldbus. The only information that the engineer must manually enter is the mechanical distance a motor rotates.


For example, a vertical filling/form/seal packaging machine has multiple moving shafts for breakfast food bag production. In the past, if the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) decided to replace the motor type, or if the end user found that the existing motor was near the end of its useful life, they first needed to consider the mechanical constraints of the motor and other parts that needed to be replaced.


Traditionally, the selected motor requires a separate configuration to facilitate high-speed processing of accurate and repeatable bags. If the end-user manufacturer needs to change the location profile to generate a series of larger bags, the engineer must reprogram each axis point-by-point, and then reprogram again if the product needs to be changed. Using an EtherCAT and PC-based software solution, the same configuration or reconfiguration can be done in a few minutes, this solution takes advantage of the variable speed and positioning of the servo motors. If secondary feedback is required, the automation software can also easily configure a separate encoder like a servo motor.


EtherCAT provides real-time diagnostic capabilities for motors, drives, and input/output (I/O) systems. The measurement functions of some software platforms can provide accurate data on point positions, speeds, and torques to monitor and maximize performance.


The biggest benefit of this application is that it reduces confusion through a simplified motion engineering environment. It is very important to find software that can perform the configuration of the motion system, and run the programmable logic controller (PLC), human machine interface (HMI) and all other machine control functions on the same platform. This eliminates the need for software only for the servo system. Some vendorssoftware products also include integrated motion sizing tools, which facilitate the selection and installation of components through a graphical interface. These software products are very useful for servo motors and other components that are difficult to integrate, such as pinion racks, conveyor belts, or crank arms.


The movement sizing tool integrated in the automation software facilitates the selection and installation of components in the graphical interface. Picture source of this article: Beckhoff


New features of servo motors

Higher flexibility allows engineers to implement servo motors without interrupting the equipment budget. Not only shortens the programming time, but also reduces labor costs, making the total price of implementing these technologies closer to stepper motors. This is fortunate, because although it can provide potential synchronous motion control and the latest advances in servo technology, the cost issue has actually slowed the speed of servo motors accepted by some factories.


Synchronous motors provide higher accuracy through closed-loop control. The servo motor sends feedback, allowing the drive to track its position without a separate encoder. They use less energy than similarly sized stepper motors, while providing torque at higher speeds. The servo system also has internal windings, which can dissipate heat more effectively. New features, such as motors with integrated drives, safety technology, and single cable technology (OCT), can enhance the potential benefits of servo motors.


Servo motors with integrated drives help to create effective distributed servo systems. Combining the servo drive and the servo motor in one device can save space in the control cabinet and save more costs. The integrated Safe Torque Off (STO) and SS1 motion safety functions, etc., can further save costs by reducing the need for separate I/O terminals or other hardware for these tasks.


The single-cable technology can support various sizes of servo motors, from the low-power options of compact drives connected to the I/O terminal form to large F7 flange motors that require large drives.


Although the flexibility of servo motors has increased, the size of many motors has not changed much. By integrating the amplifier in the rear of the housing, the motor can maintain the same flange specifications and similar dimensions, and the length is only slightly increased. This reduces the footprint of the newly designed machine and eliminates the expensive cost of modification due to mechanical changes. The single-cable technology combines power and feedback in one cable, reducing wiring workload and potential failure points by 50%, and supports all motor sizes and types.


Through the single-cable automation solution, the distributed servo system further enhances the shellless motion control architecture by using an IP65-rated distribution box. This supports applications that need to run multiple motion axes in a modular machine design. A single cable connects the remaining control cabinets and distribution boxes, which connect multiple servo motors with integrated drives and additional distribution boxes (if additional shafts are required). Multiple connector types are combined with PC-based control software and EtherCAT's intuitive configuration to create plug-and-play solutions.


servo motors with integrated drives are conducive to retrofit projects and new applications, and the use of EtherCAT and PC control can also reduce commissioning time. Compared with traditional control systems, these advantages will become more economical and easier to implement. The advantages of closed-loop control, the advancement of synchronous motor technology, and the overall simpler configuration combine to make servo motors an ideal choice for rotary motion requirements. 

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