As the saying goes, simpler is better – and that's true not only in our everyday life, but in industrial environments as well. Over the past decade, enabling technologies including EtherNet/IP and the Internet of Things (IoT) have helped OEMs reduce complexity and deliver truly information-enabled machines.
But despite these advances in network and communication technology, machine builders often face disparate programming and configuration environments – and that's especially the case in applications that require both simple speed control and precise motor functionality.
For example, a typical packaging machine could include infeed and outfeed conveyors, run by induction motors and variable frequency drives – plus product positioning, controlled by servo technology. While variable frequency drives (VFDs) generally utilize parameter-based programming, servo drive software has evolved into a more simplistic, intuitive set of instructions.These different methodologies potentially introduce complexity in the machine development process for engineers who must use two programming tools to design the system – and synchronize the machine. Down the road, the two environments may also complicate life for technicians troubleshooting or repairing the equipment.
Of course, OEMs can rectify this situation by utilizing high-performance servo motors and drives for all machine functionality. And some of them do. But in most cases, that is neither practical nor cost-effective.
There really wasn't an ideal solution to this challenge. Until now.
With the introduction of the Allen-Bradley® PowerFlex® 527 AC drive, Rockwell Automation has unified the programming environments for variable frequency and servo technology. This streamlined approach uses integrated instructions that are shared by the PowerFlex 527 drive and Allen-Bradley Kinetix® servo drives.
Both drives use a single software tool, Studio 5000 Logix Designer, and one programming methodology based on common motion instruction sets.
The PowerFlex 527 drive is built to integrate exclusively with Allen-Bradley Logix programmable automation controllers (PACs) and provides a low-cost solution for parts of the machine that need simple speed control. The Kinetix drives handle the more precise motor control operations involving speed, torque and positioning.
Learn more about this latest addition to the PowerFlex drive family. And discover how teaching your VFD to speak servo might be easier than you think.
Published November 28, 2014