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Motion System

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THINK INSIDE THE BOX Exceptional designs deserve superior components. The developer of the original world-class linear motion systems, THK continues to redeďŹ ne industry standards and to meet an ever-growing range of needs. From aerospace and machine tool to packaging and medical, THK products play a vital role in the advancement of technology and capability.

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Step-Up for Savings With SureStep® integrated stepper motors and drives INTEGRATED MOTORS/DRIVES STARTING AT

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Starting at $98.00 (STP-MTRD-17038) Integrated stepper motors and drives save panel space, require less wiring and are less expensive than traditional stepper motor and drive separates. Standard models include: • Pulse/Direction or CW Pulse/CCW Pulse input • Externally-wireable encoder included on select models for feedback to an external controller • Three optically isolated digital inputs, 5 to 24 volts • Optional step input signal smoothing • Dynamic smoothing reduces jerk, limiting system resonance • Electronic damping eliminates midrange resonance • Idle current reduction option saves energy when system is idle • Configurable hardware digital noise filter, software noise filter • Non-volatile storage, configurations are saved in FLASH memory on-board the DSP • Dynamic current control provides smoother motion and allows the motor to run cooler Advanced models ALSO include: • Pulse/Direction or CW Pulse/CCW Pulse or A/B Quadrature input • Velocity (oscillator) and position mode (internal indexing) • Control via streaming SCL commands over RS-485 • RS-485 ASCII (2- or 4-wire) communications • Internal encoder included on select models for improved position and speed control • Four “Variable I/O” points, 5 to 24 volts (NEMA 24 models) • Analog input for speed and position, 0 to 5 VDC

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FREE! SureMotion Pro Configuration Software • Provides easy configuration and setup of the drive, including: motion control modes, I/O and motor • Open, Save, Upload and Download configuration files • Status Monitor screen aids troubleshooting • Self Test Mode verifies motor wiring and functionality • SCL Terminal window allows testing/verification of SCL (serial ASCII) commands before programming begins • Comprehensive Help Files include technical data, application information, advanced setup and serial command instructions • Used for advanced models only (standard models configured via simple DIP switches)

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The rare earth mineral shortage

can the news pages from about eight years ago and you will likely notice a lot of hand-wringing about shortages of “critical materials” crucial for high-tech motors. The materials in question were rare-earth metals used for, among other things, making magnets with a super-high energy density. Back then, China began limiting exports of rare-earth metals. Because that country supplied 97% of the world’s rare earths, the price of neodymium used in brushless motor magnets quadrupled. This price explosion led to the founding of Molycorp Inc., a U.S. mining company with a way of extracting rare earth metals from ore that experts said was innovative. Today, the price of rare earths has come back down to earth. Recently you could buy a ton of neodymium oxide for about $47,000 whereas the same amount of material in 2011 went for over $250,000. Molycorp entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy a few years ago and its assets were recently liquidated. China still provides about 70% of the world’s rare earth metals. So you might wonder why the price of rare earths crashed, even in the face of a trade tariff war with the main source. Insights come from a paper by University of Texas public affairs Prof. Eugene Gholz, who advises the DoD on rare earths. Gholz points out that Chinese producers found various ways of getting around the export limits the Chinese government imposed on rare earths. He estimates the Chinese illegally exported as much as 30,000 tons of rare earths annually. Moreover, some of the applications for rare-earth permanent magnets turned out to be illusory. When the price popped, demand for these magnets fell partly because some manufacturers were able to get by with weaker ones. And materials researchers cranked up efforts to minimize the use of rare earths in magnet alloys.

Even so, the magnetics in motors and electronics accounted for only a small fraction of total rare earth production. At the time of the production bruhaha, cellphones needed a few grams of neodymium and a Toyota Prius used about a kilogram of the stuff. Toyota says it has since reduced its neodymium needs by about 20% per car, though it uses more of the cheaper lanthanum and cerium to do so. Experts predict a surplus of these two materials for many years to come. Actually, the main application for rare earths back in the days of the bubble was as catalysts in gasoline refining. But you can refine gasoline without rare earths. Gholz reports that some refiners did so at the peak of the 2011 rare-earths price pop, at the expense of a slightly less efficient refining process. The change didn’t do much damage to their financials, he says. Meanwhile, production of rare earths outside China ramped up. Though Molycorp met an ignominious end, Lynas Corp. in Australia now produces rare earths at a rate of about 22,000 tons annually. Russia and Brazil both put out a few thousand tons each. The fear back in 2011 was that rare earth metal supplies would go the way of the 1973 oil embargo. But the lesson from the ensuing panic, says Gholz, is that the oil embargo was a special case. Where there’s economic coercion, there’s also an opportunity for introducing competition and a rationale for investing in potential innovations.

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A growth industry: Automation in the burgeoning cannabis market With federal descheduling of hemp and only 15 states left in the U.S. where psychoactive marijuana is still fully illegal, the manufacture and sale of cannabis-derived products have skyrocketed. Automation is driving much of the industry’s productivity.



aboos against cannabis continue to go up in smoke, which has meant the rapid ascent of an entirely new industry. It’s also meant proliferation of new automated systems and machine designs for all stages of cannabis production — including growing, harvesting, processing, testing, packaging, and distributing of marijuana and hemp-based goods to satisfy demand. Before we detail these technologies, it might be helpful to review some basics about the plant itself. You see, cannabis includes the two subspecies of indica and sativa; psychoactive marijuana strains come from both subspecies, while all hemp strains — incredibly useful in their own right — come from the latter. Hemp is hemp and not classified as a marijuana strain when it’s less than 0.3% of the intoxicant tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) by dry weight, a distinction considered arbitrary by some. Marijuana has THC concentrations of 15% to 40% in most cases. Despite their various applications, all of these plants were (until recently) illegal to grow or transport. Many states have since passed laws on permitting marijuana … and with the January 2019 U.S. Farm Bill now law, hemp is no longer listed as a Schedule 1 narcotic at all … “and will reinsert itself as one of the most useful plant species on earth,” said Ag t3 Holdings president and CEO Ed Horton.



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Shown here is an automated AEtrium System from AEssenseGrows. Sensor feedback informs software routines that automate all climate and plant-feeding functions. Another AEssenseGrows product is the Guardian Grow Manager — an IIoT tool that lets growhouse managers remotely monitor and adjust their operations from a laptop or mobile device. |

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Marijuana is fully legal (though regulated) even for recreational use in Alaska, California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington. Ag t3 Holdings is a consultancy that aims to support the U.S. hemp market not for production of the plant’s famously strong and durable fibers, but rather for its cannabidiol or CBD oil. Largely available in states that have legalized medicinal applications of cannabis, CBD oil may reduce inflammation and the effects of anxiety, ADHD, epilepsy, Crohn’s disease, asthma, and glaucoma. Many of these medicinal benefits overlap with those attributed to THC, though CBD has no intoxicating effect. In fact, some research indicates augmented (synergistic) benefits when THC and CBD are consumed together … especially when other cannabis terpenes and flavonoids as well as cannabigerol, cannabichromene, cannabidivarin, and tetrahydrocannabivarin naturally occurring in the plant are also present. Current approaches to grow hemp — outdoors using relatively traditional means of farming — are often far different than those for marijuana. (Skip to this feature’s section on harvesting for more on technology aimed at maximizing hemp crops’ profitability.) In fact, marijuana cultivation is increasingly done within secure greenhouses or growrooms in fully isolated buildings, especially for large-scale commercial operations. GROWING CANNABIS IN MODERN WAYS Cannabis-industry investments reached $13.8B last year to quadruple those of just two years ago, according to Viridian Capital Advisors. Many new operations leverage automated farming and advanced horticulture technologies, which are seeing their own staggering levels of investment and adoption. That’s according to venture-capital platform AgFunder Inc., 3 • 2019


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Cannabis cultivation

leverages modular automation stations

BY MICHAEL G. GIUNTA • NATIONAL SALES MANAGER MACRON DYNAMICS Uninitiated laymen might assume today’s cannabis is grown through traditional farming — over horizontal outdoor spaces in natural environments managed by Mother Nature. But large-scale cannabis farming is typically indoors and highly automated. That’s for a couple reasons: •

Security is a major concern for the entire marijuana industry. Growers leverage the use of indoor spaces to simplify the safety of their operations and nearby communities. Automated systems vastly improve the yield and quality of crops.

Many growers use HVAC and building controls over their indoor facilities to execute tight regulation over environmental temperature, humidity, carbon dioxide and oxygen, and light. Then other systems manage nutrient delivery, watering cycles, and other factors that change with plant growth phases. The catch is that equipment and sensors for the latter can be costly. That’s why some operators that don’t want to buy (or can’t afford) 20 or 30 systems to service stationary rows of plants instead employ vertical farming composed of movable walls. In these operations, rack walls filled with growing plants roll into and out of one or two automated stations for servicing. Cartesian robots at these stations execute various jobs. Here, one function of a Cartesian robot might be to move a vision system around the plants to visually inspect for health and quality — and even track states of growth or collect images for analysis. Other functions might be to move a sampling array around the plants to verify pH levels … or to take a trimmer around the plants for pruning. It’s a design concept that borrows from the design of automatic storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS) for the servicing of a living X-Y-Z matrices — as the orientation and size of these walls is similar to AS/RS installations … and use many of the same servomotor-driven gantry designs. Like AS/RS, vertical farming necessitates linear-motion designs capable of long travels — even to 12 to 15 feet wide to 15 feet tall for some vertical farming walls. Wide span capabilities are key, as is the ability to handle heavy payloads … especially if there’s any transport of water. We’ve used our AS/RS expertise to support automated farming — and not just for cannabis. Such farming is suitable for myriad vegetables now being grown indoors … and in fact, the whole concept of vertical farming is exploding in North America right now.


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which connects agriculture entrepreneurs with investors (and publishes its data at One iteration is the use of greenhouses with automated plant-tending systems. “I can’t say whether we’ve provided engineering support to facilities for cannabis-related automation, only because we sell via distribution channels and don’t always know who end-customers are,” said Jonas Proeger of Trinamic Motion Control. “However, we do know that our PANdrive smart mechatronic solutions are used for automation in agriculture. A Dutch company called Ridder uses them for the automation of vents in livestock stables and greenhouses.” Proeger also said that his company sees an uptick in precision-agriculture applications. “These are systems where single plants are supplied with the appropriate amount of water and fertilizers … and unproductive plants or branches are automatically weeded out. Many such operations are still in their research state, but there is a rising trend here,” he added. In fact, a third of today’s marijuana production is indoors … and the percentage is higher in cooler places such as Colorado and Canada. These growroom settings often house precision hydroponic systems that wash plant roots in nutrient-titrated solutions; along with careful control of the plant environment, this induces growth that’s far faster that soil-based cultivation … and generally yields larger and healthier plants as well. “One interesting application in cannabis automation is the use of IP65rated motors in the wet environments of hydroponic nutrient systems,” said Josh Burns, northwest region sales manager for Applied Motion Products. Another form of precision agriculture is aeroponics — supported by integrated hardware and controls from AEssenseGrows, based in Sunnyvale, Calif. Read our uncut interview with Phil Gibson, a V.P. at AEssenseGrows at designworldonline. com. Aeroponics is a technique for growing plants in a misted-air environment sans soil or other medium. That’s in contrast with


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hydroponics, which uses water baths and (in some cases) a small amount of water-retaining medium to support plant roots. Benefits include cleaner operation and more control over the solution makeup that mists over the plant roots for fastest possible growth. So what’s the catch? “Aeroponics requires complex controls and sensors to monitor nutrient percentages and guarantee they’re sprayed out at the right rates … and maintain the correct amount of oxygen in the root zone to allow photosynthesis. Plants are funny … they’re upside down — roots need oxygen, and the canopy needs carbon dioxide,” explained Gibson. Within enclosed growhouses, plants absorb lots of carbon dioxide from the air and turn it into oxygen. Plants use oxygen at their roots for absorbing salts and water and create carbohydrates. Those carbohydrates then go up into the canopy to support photosynthesis using light energy and carbon dioxide. This helps create more complex sugars and structure for the plant … which in turn spur growth. Then the plant aspirates water and oxygen into the atmosphere. Manual approaches won’t cut it: These biochemical processes necessitate quick and precise regulation of the environment — including the aeroponics of the root zone and the oxygen, carbon dioxide, moisture, temperature, and light energy affecting the plant canopies. “Our AEssenseGrows AEtrium system optimizes all these processes — concurrently monitoring all disparate parameters with sensor arrays to deliver exactly what plants need. It controls actuators to adjust conditions and automated peristaltic pumps to inject nutrients at precise levels, right when they’re needed. One challenge is that because plants grow so fast with aeroponics (going through photosynthesis so quickly) they can deplete a growroom of carbon dioxide within an hour. In addition, the plants aspirate water so quickly that the growroom becomes a jungle — reaching 90% humidity almost immediately,” noted Gibson. So the AEssenseGrows system also triggers automatic injection of carbon dioxide into the growroom to keep pace with the 3 • 2019

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Emerging technologies include cannabis-trimming robots from Bloom Automation that employ software models and machine vision to very delicately trim leaves off buds. | courtesy Bloom Automation

photosynthesis and growth process. Other functions include dehumidification and integration with growhouse HVAC functions for heating, air conditioning, air purification, airflow management, and temperature management. Typically, the automated system holds growhouse conditions to 68° and 72° and a thousand parts per million carbon dioxide at 40% humidity with 1,000 PPFD light intensity at the canopy level. “Everyone at AEssenseGrows is an engineer, and we’re comfortable with this industry because of our vast experience in electronics, control systems, and the development of software environments,” said Gibson. In fact, Gibson’s own efforts beginning in 1995 at National Semiconductor has |

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informed his involvement in new user interfaces and websites to facilitate data access and system control. That includes the AEssenseGrows Guardian Grow Manager tool that imparts IoT functionality and lets managers remotely monitor grow environments from a laptop or mobile device … and even execute control over electromechanical systems to make adjustments as needed. HARVESTING MARIJUANA AND HEMP PROFITS WITH AUTOMATED DESIGNS Where controls, relatively modest actuators, sensors, and software dominate automated grow settings, proper motion designs are at the heart of cannabis transplanters, 3 • 2019

harvesting robots, and automated destemming and bucking equipment. Consider bucking — the process of removing marijuana buds or flowers from their stems. Vancouver, Canada-based Shearline is a designer and manufacturer of buckers as well as trimming machines. “The legalization of marijuana in the U.S., Canada, and the rest of the world has fueled a massive shift in the methods used to grow, harvest, and process cannabis plants,” said Shearline head of research Ryan Hall. Such operations have always been far more difficult than the uninitiated might assume. “In 1997, after four frustrating years of R&D, I introduced the first machine capable of trimming excess leaf off flowers on all DESIGN WORLD — MOTION


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strains of marijuana,” added Hall. Properly setup and operated, this electric-motor-driven machine produces results almost identical to those of hand-trimming methods historically used in processing flower for public consumption — but at speed 10 to 20 times faster. Since then, Hall has continued work to improve all aspects of this equipment and other automated machinery. “The ability to develop and test concepts in a totally open and cooperative manner with manufacturers of motors, drive systems, and most importantly, PLC-controlled VFDs, has enabled amazing options to dramatically improve our machines’ efficiencies … and reduce manual labor even further,” said Hall. One challenges Shearline has addressed with these motion technologies is that of |

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trimming many different marijuana strains — all with unique structures and densities. Each strain requires different and varying levels of trimmingmachine drum speed, tilt, and angle; suction; input feed rate; and cutting-system speed and rotation. Large-scale producers are now demanding the automation of other cannabis processing tasks as well. “These tasks include bucking of buds from the stalks … as trimming machines can’t perform this process — yet. Industrial-scale feeding of trimming machines is another task we’ve automated with our system offerings. These allow for a consistent flowrate to output uniformly trimmed product … and further reduction of manual labor,” Hall explained. “Here, separation of trimmed material is required prior to passing through the impellers of

3 • 2019

Shown here is a SPYDRx PLUS lighting system from Fluence. It’s designed for vertical cannabis cultivation on a commercial scale. In fact, vertical farming often helps operators grow better-quality cannabis (and an array of other crops) more efficiently. In some arrangements, movable walls enter and exit stations serviced by one sophisticated robot that executes several plant-management tasks.


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T-ZERO trimmers include full speed control on all mechanical components — including the tumblers, blades, air system, and infeed and output conveyors. | courtesy Twister Trimmer

the blowers running at 3,600-rpm to ensure sufficient suction. This serves to preserve the quality of trimmed leaves, which have become valuable in their own right for use in extractions,” Hall of Shearline continued. All the machines’ components are food-grade electroless nickel plated or electropolished stainless steel for compliance with strict local regulations. “Another design collects fine particles to ensure the trimmer maintains the suction so critical to its consistent operation. These particles would otherwise clog outlet filters on the machine that ensure the cleanliness and safety of the surrounding work environment. In fact, particle collection also minimizes the time and labor required for cleaning the equipment.”

This and other equipment to process marijuana plants (and those from OEMs including Twister Trimmer, GreenBroz, and Munch Machine) is well developed and commercially available — employing variable-speed motors to adapt to the infeed of wet and dry plants; HMIs for allow coordinated conveying and manual tasks; and even SKADA integration and IIoT connectivity for remote diagnostics in some cases. In contrast, machinery to make the most of hemp harvests have a way to go. Hemp is incredibly useful for more than just its CBD. Its fibers have imparted strength and durability to clothing, paper, and construction materials for thousands of years; hemp seeds (high in omega-3 fats and antioxidants) are a versatile health food; and woody portions of the plant can serve as biofuel or in hempcrete (for insulation and paneling applications). One challenge is that hemp stalks’ toughness makes it fairly difficult to process. Plus, it’s been illegal for so long, there’s little infrastructure to handle and distribute the raw material for processing into end products. One key step in the treating of hemp for non-food or supplement uses is decortication (debarking) to remove stalks’ outer cortex to expose soft bast fibers used in textiles as well as the stalks’ thick woody shives or hurd cores. In the U.S., Hemp Inc. in North Carolina is the sole commercial hemp decorticator. But soon, new pieces of mobile equipment could serve the industry for this function. Edmonton, Canada-based Natural Fibre Technologies recently released a mobile hemp and flax decorticator; Formation Ag (through a number of partnerships) has also begun production of this specialty mobile equipment.

On this T-ZERO machine, a 1-hp tumbler motor rotates a 6.5 ft3 tumbler as a 20-hp blade motor works to trim plant stems and leaves from buds. Input is 3-phase 480/600 V; output is to 120 lb of dry buds per hour. | courtesy Twister Trimmer



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The Twister T-ZERO trims wet and dry marijuana plants to output 56,000 cuts per minute for a total wet throughput of more than 600 lb per hour. Siemens PLC automation with a touchscreen HMI enables custom presets and data collection for top efficiency and consistency. | courtesy Twister Trimmer

If successful, their efforts could address the current disconnect between hemp producers and those looking to make non-CBD goods out of the plant. But key to effective mobiledecorticator design is that they be self-feeding units … as viable hemp-fiber farming necessitates the harvesting of many thousands of acres. Check out the Motion Trends piece on electric actuators for details on where linear-motion components and IoT functionality are improving heavy vehicles and off-highway machinery not unlike self-feeding decorticators.


TECHNOLOGIES IN CANNABINOID EXTRACTION AND TESTING Cannabinoids such as THC and CBD are often extracted from marijuana and hemp stalks for more versatile application in edibles, drops, and vaping products. Extraction is through use of a solvent in the form of lowtemperature CO2 at high pressure; ethanol; olive oil; and butane or hexane. As Burns of Applied Motion Products explains, many cannabis processes are similar to others in food and consumer packaged goods. “However, there are some areas of which we weren’t initially aware when entering the cannabis automation market. For example, one method of extracting CBD from the plant relies on the use of high-grade grain alcohol or ethanol, which is highly flammable. For an application such as this, we must supply specialized motion-control solutions — including those certified for use in hazardous locations. Such offerings include our HX56-100 stepper motor and STAC6-Q-H stepper drive.” Motor makers address the challenges of yet other THC and CBD extraction methods.

Shearline supplies an array of equipment to small and commercial-scale marijuana processors. | courtesy Shearline |

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“Empire makes high-performance cryogenic motors among many other special-use motors,” said Richard Halstead, president of Empire Magnetics. “One motor design works in a machine for the extraction of cannabinoids at extremely cold temperatures.” As the most widely used illegal drug, a large body of knowledge has been accumulated about the effect of cannabinoids — including those for medicinal purposes. But this information was not collected using traditional methods (by pharmaceutical companies or other medical entities) so companies are now struggling to normalize the process of extracting these compounds in a safe, controlled, industrial scale process. “To date, the preferred extraction process uses liquid carbon dioxide,” continued Halstead. “This material provides a high extraction rate without leaving residue in the compounds. The catch is that because the process takes place at high pressure and temperatures of about -90° C, special equipment (including electric motors to operate the pumps, agitators, and other necessary motions) that can operate under these conditions is required.” So Empire Magnetics designed a solution that addresses the issue with a combination axial-gap motor and a magnetic coupling. “To avoid contamination, the motor windings (stator) are sealed in a welded stainless-steel containment that prevents intrusion of moisture that would turn to ice. The rotor contains features for the agitator and turns on ceramic bearings. These ceramic bearings are lubricated by the liquid CO2. The stator materials and construction were made for the wide range in temperature the motor sees … and because they’re not in contact with the fluids in the tank, there were no constraints on the material choices,” explained Halstead. “The motor design of this extractor is highly engineered … and in fact, Empire Magnetics regularly designs and manufactures motors for use in these types of extreme conditions and temperatures — including motors tested by the USAF at 24 Kelvin — which is -249° C,” he added. PACKAGING AND DISTRIBUTING CANNABIS EDIBLES AND MEDICINAL PRODUCTS Much of the final packaging of cannabis products borrows from the medical-supply and food and beverage industries. However, the labeling of THC and CBD-infused edibles requires a unique combination of dietary as well as dosing information; states such as California regulate this labeling with rules that are much like those for alcohol and tobacco.



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Hemp edibles packaging example courtesy Madia Walker. For more information, visit

In addition, the pouching and wrapping of cannabis products must be child-resistant; tamper evident with a tearing element or pop-up indicator that shows when a product has been opened; and resealable for multi-serving products. In addition, the packaging must be nontransparent (to hide the appearance of the contents); and indicate the THC and CBD in mg per serving. Said Burns of Applied Motion Products: “We’ve seen an increase in the adoption of automated systems for cannabisrelated production and packaging. Many of the applications are similar to existing applications in food and consumer goods … and employ machines for sorting, weighing, filling, capping, sealing, and other traditional forms of packaging.” Other packaging equipment relevant here includes that for candy production; labeling; and wrapping and case packing. For these applications, Burns added that Applied Motion Products can specify standard motion-control solutions … the same motors and drives that have been in use for years in packaging machinery. |

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VO LU M E 5 N U M B E R 1




MOTION SYSTEM TRENDS Editorial..................................................


Automation in Cannabis.........................



Actuators Electric.............................................


Voice Coil.........................................




Lead Screws............................................


Ball Screws..............................................




Motors - Linear.......................................


Networking, Connectivity Cabling & IoT


Motion Connectivity & Networking.......




Clutches & Brakes..................................














Linear Slides, Guides & Ways.................


Sensors & Transducers...........................


Shocks & Vibration Technologies...........


Stages & Tables & Cartesian Robots......

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Contents - MC HB 3-19.indd 17



64 3 • 2019



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Actuators displace other motion options — including manual designs


oday, electric actuators are easier than ever to specify and install. Value-add services from component suppliers as well as application-specific actuator product lines (especially for battery-powered designs in mobile equipment and consumer use) eliminate many integration tasks for OEMs and end users. These are trends supported in part by a movement Design World has tracked for the last several years — that of increasingly preintegrated motion builds. Fastest growth is in compact motion designs aimed at replacing manually operated functions.

We cover the increase of electric-actuator programmability (and how component suppliers and their distributors are supporting some of this work) below. But besides trends related to I4.0, Proeger of Trinamic Motion Control (quoted above) notes more aspects of human life being automated. Read the LINAK application feature that follows this piece for one example related to increasing ergonomics of off-highway machinery. Others see the same trend — especially for electric actuators.

Jonas Proeger • Trinamic Motion Control: The big overlying trend we see is what some call the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Dave Humblet | Senior application engineer with PBC Linear: Some recent applications illustrate the trend towards more OEMs incorporating accessibility and serviceability features in their designs with actuators and other linear-motion designs. In one instance, linear actuators provide cab movement on a trenching machine for operator visibility. More specifically, this design uses PBC Linear CCR16 linear shafting and FLN16 standard linear bearing in a customer housing. Advantages here include availability; good load ratings; and robust design.

Two important things follow out of this: •

More and more aspects of human life are being automated … including functions serviced with large machines as well as small everyday tasks. Software-defined machines are seeing exponential rise in use. A perfect example of this is the 3D printer: These machines can fabricate anything provided with appropriate software. But it’s not just 3D printers … in fact, software-defined machines also enable new fabrication plants that nowadays aren’t built for one product alone … but rather accept reprogramming or even modification of every part manufactured according to customer demand — for what industry calls mass customization.

As products and machines are increasingly software defined (without any change to the machine physics) we think lower-level functions (such as motor control and ramping) should be done in proven building blocks that keep working reliably — even when the application software changes. What’s unique about Trinamic offerings is the partitioning between hardware (where our designs execute motor control and software tasks) which our customers leverage for communications stacks and application code. In the past, most actuators were built by OEMs that would buy motors, rotary-to-linear devices, and couplings and then execute assembly in-house. Today, specification of turnkey electric actuators is the norm for projects involving just a few or thousands of axes.



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Another big trend in electric actuators is their use in replacing pneumatics. Peter Zafiro • LinMot USA: Most actuators in industry are pneumatic. Anybody who says otherwise doesn’t spend enough time in typical automated production plants. Even in nonautomated plants, there’s lots of air being used. That means there’s still a lot of room for electric actuators … these motion components are getting easier to use. This means we need to step up and educate end users on how expensive compressed air can be — even at the ultra-cheap electrical rates we have in the U.S. Plus, you must factor in the noise….and the maintenance… and the hassle of frequent repairs. One plant manager used our product for 18 months in an exact duplicate of a pneumatic application. The liner motor electric actuator we provided worked better than the pneumatic cylinder and resulted in greater productivity. It wasn’t until we brought in a high-efficiency compressor, created a perfectly leakfree air-delivery system to run his pneumatic cylinder machine, measured the kilowatt hours used, and compared this to the linear motor electric actuator machine, that he accepted our electric actuator solution. The LinMot solution used 3% of the |

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electricity that the air cylinder did. It cost him well over $5,000 a year to run the pneumatic cylinder in electricity … the ROI for the electric replacement was less than a year. Many plants making production parts run profit margins of less than a penny per part. Providing $5,000 in added profit per year — that is huge. Other benefits of electric-actuator technologies over fluid-power offerings are their lower maintenance and programmability — for full leveraging of sensor data and load monitoring … sometimes in real time. Even so, many engineers incorrectly assume pneumatics and linear motors have very little overlap in applicability. Zafiro • LinMot: In some cases, linear motors are a direct replacement for pneumatics. The upfront price penalty is quickly offset by lower total cost of ownership. Of course, not all pneumatic applications use significant kilowatt hours … but many linear-motion applications sure do. That’s because moving from A to B with an attached load causes lots of air displacement in the cylinder. Even so, most end users still won’t switch. The stigma is that linear motors are high-end drive technology and pneumatic cylinders are simple. Even though replacing the most basic

Tolomatic IMA linear servo actuators, in standard and foodgrade models, feature hollow-core rotor design, allowing the nut of the screw to pass inside the rotor. This compact package can decrease overall actuator length compared to standard actuators due to the elimination of a separate motor, motor mount and gearbox. | courtesy Tolomatic Inc.

with the most sophisticated technology seems like overkill to some engineers, in practice it’s not. Direct-drive systems exhibit no heat losses associated with ballscrews, gears, belts, couplings, and other intermediate drivetrains. Our linear motors are also sealed against contamination … even to IP69K laser welded protection. The reality is that linear motors don’t make sense for every application … though make sense for many. Moving a distance greater than 100 mm with a frequency greater than every 2 second, and any type of load attached — you can bet that you’re using a lot of air. So why not go with the most efficient system for point-to-point positioning and picking and placing? Linear motors also excel in threading and capping applications with repeated up-down-rotation movements — where a rotary motor is attached to the linear motor. Thomson Industries MOTIONEERING sizing software lets design engineers (among other things) use a part numbering selector to quickly find linear-motion solutions. Immediate access to 3D models and technical information is available. |

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MOTION SYSTEM TRENDS Application example:

Ladders on construction machinery use actuators for better ergonomics

90% of small U.S. construction companies have safety programs, but only a third have programs to improve the ergonomics of workers’ environments. It’s too bad, because the risk of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) is especially high in construction workers. Plus annual wage and salary losses are estimated at $46 million for the U.S. private-construction sector. Workers in other countries don’t fare much better: In the U.K., MSDs cause workers to miss 6.6 million working days a year … with some 469,000 workers suffering from new or long-standing MSDs. But there is growing interest in implementing ergonomic solutions in today’s construction industry. Relatively simple analysis of heavy-duty off-highway machinery often yields design ideas to improve ergonomics for operators. Case in point: Now in one new design, electric actuators from LINAK on power-

adjustable stepladders make it easier and safer for operators to get up into (and out of) elevated cabs on excavators and graders. Adjustable stepladders and other electrically actuated access systems execute safe extension while bringing step sections closer to ground. That spares drivers’ knees from strain. Because these designs tuck away before the excavator or grader begins moving, they also include steps that are wide, grated for traction, marked for good visibility, and spaced with a rise and run that lets operators use them as a normal stairway. Such a design is far more ergonomic than ladders made of bars flushmounted to the cab side … which require upper-body strength and balance to use. Electrically actuated stepladders are powered by a battery with no dependence on any of the off-highway vehicle’s hydraulic systems. That means the ladders are operable even when the main engine isn’t running. Authorized operators simply trigger stepladder action via remote control. In fact, actuator-operated retractable ladders also serve as a theft and vandalism deterrent, as they make it harder for unauthorized personnel to physically access the higher cabs. ISO 2867:2011 dictates that ladders must be activated and fully extended to allow cab access on earth-moving machinery. LINAK linear actuators satisfy this and other off-highway design standards and ergonomics challenges.



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Still other advancements in mechanical devices for linear actuators abound. Some of these also take aim at conventional fluid-power offerings.

Dave Beckstoffer | Product manager • Portescap: The continued trend in linear actuators is size reduction while maintaining a high force output. Portescap continues to develop new linear actuators capable of increased linear force while Aaron Dietrich • Tolomatic: Strong growth in the deployment of maintain the same outside diameter. roller screws originates from requirements of more force capabilities In addition, external linear-actuator designs can provide into smaller package sizes when displacing hydraulic-cylinder added options utilizing different technologies — including brush technology. Not only must the forces be reached, but the screw dc motors and gearboxes. Alternate technologies help reduce the technology must provide very long life in demanding applications diameter of the motor solution while providing flexibility in the and also be able to withstand machine vibrations and other leadscrew pitch. challenging environments. Stefan Vorndran • Physik Instrumente (PI): We see more interest in piezomotor-driven miniature actuators for applications LINAK linear actuators power retractable where space and power are limited and requirements for operator-cab stepladders of off-highway equipment precision are high. Piezomotors are smaller and more efficient and make it easier for workers to climb up into (and than traditional miniature motors and piezomotor actuators can climb down from) the elevated cab area. very stably hold position without the need for continuous power or a mechanical brake. The small actuator size allows for the construction of very small positioning stages as well.

Electric motion Compact modular actuator |

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MOTION SYSTEM TRENDS No matter the motor or mechanical-actuation type, predesigned actuator subassemblies are widespread these days. Customization for OEMs is sometimes useful where an axis may need to move faster than standard product is capable … or software may need to accommodate specialty communications requirements. Choosing between assembling components or getting them integrated in advance lets OEMs and end users control the time and effort they put into motion-design tasks … including those related to motor and drive matching and customization for specific applications. Such designs often yield smart actuators that include cabling and connectors, potentiometers, encoders, controllers, relays, and embedded electronics for networking. Where component suppliers or their distributors assume some of the actuator programming, OEMs and end users can expect even more support. Dietrich • Tolomatic: Integrating multiple technologies into a single modular motion control solution helps machine designers create more compact machine designs. For example, Tolomatic’s IMA product line is an optimized solution with matched components. It integrates the mechanical actuator and servo motor into one actuator module. With integrated actuator solutions, the machine designer has only one mechanical design independent of a servo control supplier. This reduces component count and eliminates the need to mount the motor to the actuator. Furthermore, the integrated actuator components are optimized for performance, cost, size and weight. Patrick Wheeler | Product manager • Aerotech: Controls technology is moving towards embedded solutions. That means more and more, the PC has to prove its way into the application … and the PC is no longer the starting point. We’re also seeing a trend towards more advanced programming languages over traditional IEC languages such as ladder and structured text. Not to say that there’s some global move away from IEC … but the increased use of advanced programming is an emerging trend. In fact, more and more often we hear of customers who are willing to take on new languages to complete jobs … although they do want the language to be familiar and adhere to modern language constructs. HOW IS THE INCREASED INTEGRATION OF LINEAR ACTUATORS HELPING OEMS? Dan Schmit | Product manager • Tolomatic: Integrated actuators let OEMs better support customers through easy replacement of motion modules versus troubleshooting components of a traditional actuator-gearbox-belt system. This also helps reduce the number of purchased components in the machine design (in line with purchasing trends and best practices). In the food-and-beverage industry, trends towards more compact



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solutions and open machine designs, require integrated actuators capable of washdown to improve ease of cleaning, machine reliability, and achieve an open clean-in-place machine design. General industry trends see OEM activity to improve cycle time and process reliability, requiring long life and high performance from actuators. That is achieved through design choices of various screw technologies (ball and roller screw considerations) as well as stator windings specially designed for force repeatability and dynamic response — including skewed windings and those with low electrical time constants. Easy integration and multiple mounting options also let OEMs go global and use the same mechanical machine design (form, fit, and function) to support customers internationally with different controls systems. Sizing software and online purchasing tools continue to change the way linear actuators are engineered into designs — just as they’ve changed consumer purchasing habits. Case in point: Linear-motion eTools from Bosch Rexroth (Linear Motion Designer, LinSelect, and eConfigurators) help users get information and then select, purchase, supply, commission, startup, operate, and service designs. For the latter, the manufacturer’s ActiveCockpit data-visualization tool allows tracking of plant data in real time. The way in which younger engineers prefer self-guided research (versus high-touch selling models) is helping to drive this online purchasing and specification. Design engineering in emerging markets such as eastern Europe and Sino Asia is also supported heavily by online tools. Of course, critical mass in regional markets still supports traditional sales approaches — especially where engineers want to collaborate with knowledgeable supplier representatives who can visit in person. Travis Gilmer | Product line specialist for industrial linear actuators • Thomson Industries: We recently expanded our Linear MOTIONEERING online sizing and selection tools with a platform for linear actuators. These products have commonly been challenging to size into new applications due to the various product family groups that overlap. This can result in costly and time-consuming misapplications. So we set out to simplify this process by establishing a list of 20 or so questions that most accurately identify the correct product for a specific application. The result is a more application-focused look at a wide range of feature options than what design engineers might otherwise find from searching on their own. A design engineer can log into our self-service sizing tool from their PC, mobile phone or tablet, make real-time adjustments, recalculate per their defined parameters, and download CAD-ready 3D models and 2D projections of the project to help assimilate the custom-fit product to their overall applications and designs. Plus, not only can they save project work and sizing efforts, they’re able to place an order for the linear actuator directly within the platform. |

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MDX Integrated Servo Motors Applied Motion Products is expanding our line of integrated motors with the addition of our first-ever integrated motors built on traditional 8-pole brushless servo motors. Using our innovative approach to integrated motors, developed over time with our integrated stepper and StepSERVO Integrated Motor products, we now introduce MDX Integrated Servo Motors for higher speed applications. Make it Move.

• High torque density, low inertia motors • Integrated drive/controller • 200 or 400 Watts continuous output power • Compact 60 mm frame size • IP65 or IP20 environmental rating • Built-in EtherNet/IP, CANopen, Modbus, or SCL over Ethernet or RS-485 • Dual-port communications for easy daisy-chain connections • Q Programmer for stored program execution and stand-alone operation


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Moving coil technology:

Benefits today (and innovations on horizon)

Moving coils have been around for many years. Now though, market pressures are causing the technology to rapidly evolve and gain in use. This technology competes most directly against pneumatic drives and moving-magnet rotary motors. BY ED NEFF | PRESIDENT • SMAC MOVING COIL ACTUATORS (MCA)


oving coil technology works in both rotary and linear motors. The technology has been around for a long time. Recall that within the actuator are permanent magnets generating a magnetic field; a moving coil resides in that field. Passing current through the coil generates traverse motion of it and the output shaft or shuttle. The force of that output is proportional to the coil’s turns ad the magnetic flux within the actuator (both constants) as well as the current … so more current through the coil increases output force. In brush-type rotary servo motors based on moving coil technology, the brush provides the means for current to get to the coil. In contrast, single-pole linear motors — often called voice coils — are at the heart of many speakers.

The introduction of high-strength neodymium magnets has greatly expanded the applicability of moving-coil actuators in motion applications, as actuators with these magnets output high force (or torque). The light moving mass of their coils make the actuators excel in many industrial applications because it allows for high cycle rates – to twice that of pneumatic or ball screw actuators. In addition, moving-coil actuators have: • • • •

Long cycle life — to 10 times that of pneumatic or ball screw linear actuators High repeatability over each cycle — to 10% the variance found in pneumatic devices Programmable force and torque output The ability to provide the movement for very slow speed applications.

Electric cylinders such as SMAC’s CBL series actuators use moving-coil technology with force control. They have the same size and shape as comparable pneumatic actuators.



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Press and hold

TIME Acceleration


Velocity move waits for following error.

System quickly moves to pre-position. System switches from position to velocity mode for minimal impact energy.

Force increases to enter press and hold ...

Low-force contact point when following error is triggered

Two factors restrict the technology’s wider implementation. Cost: Moving coil linear motors (and their accompanying motion controllers) have until recently cost five times more than a pneumatic cylinders and valves of comparable size … and triple that of stepper-motor-based ball screw actuators. Current input: Moving-coil actuators require a mode to get current to the coil — via brushes for rotary actuators and flex cable for linear variations. The former wears out and the latter is limited to strokes of about 500 mm or shorter.



Programmable velocity, position, and force means SMAC moving coil actuators are capable of executing Soft-Land moves. During this process, the actuator rapidly approaches an object and then slows to avoid damaging it: The system executes a low-force approach in velocity mode. Upon contact with a workpiece or other reference, position error builds until a limit is reached — for actuator maintenance of position on the workpiece surface.

Encoder cost has dropped to below $15 … mostly due to the development of low-cost chips by a number of makers and the development of low-cost plastic scales. The cost (and size) of motion controllers and amplifiers have also dropped significantly. Volume pricing is now approaching $100 per axis and will continue to decrease. This is due in part to the increased use of servo motors in automotive applications.

Even so, this is changing — with moving-coil actuators seeing an uptick in use for several reasons related to simplicity and cost effectiveness:

This is a LAR55 Series linear rotary actuator that accepts 48-V single-phase input to output 50-mm strokes with accuracy to within 5 µm. Peak force is to 40 N; peak torque is 0.2 to 2.5 Nm.



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Unlike pneumatic actuators, actuators with moving-coil technology have fully programmable velocity, position, and force.




Coil manufacturing cost is also rapidly dropping. This is due to the advent of new printed-coil technology and all the substantial benefits it imparts ... including no soldering; resistance variation to 1% of that of wound coils; very low-cost tool-up of new designs — with a typical expenditure of about $5,000; ability to print coil shapes that are impossible to wind; and the ability to integrate flex cable, encoder, and main connector into a printed flex circuit (as a way to reduce part count and assembly cost). Another factor shrinking the price of certain movingcoil actuators is the way in which some manufacturers reduce the cost of the magnets by cutting long magnets to size and magnetizing them in-house. Certain manufacturers can also replace linear guides with flexures for short strokes (of less than 30 mm) to leverage the fact that flexures can cost less than $1. |

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Today, moving coil servo actuators with built-in controller amplifiers are priced at around $350 (for volume orders) and are therefore comparable in price to actuators that incorporate ball screws … though are still twice to three times the cost of pneumatic systems. That said, prices are projected to drop another 35% as the factors listed above begin to affect the market. The other factor restricting the technology’s wider implementation is its need for a brush or flex cable. Here a solution could be on the horizon. University of Eindhoven researchers have demonstrated wireless power transmission on moving coil rotating servo motors. It’s technically feasible to apply this not only to rotary moving coil motors but to linear actuators as well. The main hurdles here are cost and the size of the power-transmitting components. But advances continue … so expect the appearance of this technology in the market in the near future.

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Pneumatic actuators and systems: Taking advantage of next-generation data


any industrial applications require linear motion during their operating sequence. One of the simplest and most cost-effective ways to accomplish this is with a pneumatic actuator, often referred to as an air cylinder. Actuators are typically mechanical devices that take energy and convert it into some kind of motion. That motion can be in any form, such as blocking, clamping, or ejecting, but typical motions are rotational or linear in scope. As old-school as pneumatic actuators are, they’re definitely not components that are stuck in the past. Improved sensing and the related advancements that engineers have seen with the age of the IoT and fog computing are making meaningful improvements to this class of actuators. For example, according to Jacob Toppen, Product Marketing Specialist for Aventics at Emerson, his company’s Smart Pneumatics Monitor (SPM), is an edge device capable of collecting data locally — totally independent of the control network. “It uses pre-installed algorithms to analyze data, display relevant system information on a dashboard, and distribute data to other systems using popular messaging protocols,” Toppen said. “By collecting sensor data and performing cycle counting, the SPM module provides reliable information on the state of wear of actuators, valves, and non-pneumatic components, plus it analyzes energy efficiency. This minimizes the risk of machine downtime and significantly lowers operating costs.”



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| courtesy Aventics

Similarly, Frank Latino, Product Manager, Business Unit Electric Automation, Festo, noted that his company has a solution using its IoT GW to do fog computing. This edge device handles substantial amounts of computation and then extends the information to a cloud service. “In essence, we are filtering and conditioning data from our pneumatic energy savings module MSE6-E2M to provide a dashboard showing the savings and maintenance information,” Latino said. “Changes in pressure, flow, and consumption data can be provided. A calculation of air savings is possible based on machine utilization of compressed air.” Toppen said that he feels the Smart Pneumatics Monitor is an innovative IIoT gateway with simple operation, great flexibility, and outstanding efficiency. “The programming software, Node-RED, comes pre-loaded on the Linux edge device. Node-RED is an open source graphical interface software developed by IBM which is easily accessible via a web browser when connected to the device,” he explained. |

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Shown here is an online electromechanical and pneumatic actuator sizing tool called Virtual Engineer from Parker Hannifin. Users can enter application specifications such as speed, load, and external forces; payload position, external forces, and moments; and axis orientation and motion profiles. Then the user can navigate to accurately sized product options. For each solution, the tool delivers a specification report, CAD models, and request for quote (RFQ). The GUI allows the user to input details of. According to Bill Service of

“What’s more, Emerson’s Aventics is taking advantage of wireless connectivity in its sensors. Wireless sensors transfer data to computing devices for process optimization and predictive maintenance.” Latino said that wireless communication “has a place in automation for the right application. It is best to follow standards, such as IO-Link wireless, so performance and interoperability are assured. I have yet to see power transfer technology suitable for actuators in the automation market.” Latino noted that compact, inexpensive, distributed I/O blocks have been trendy due to their ease of installation.  Festo plans to release a new series in this area, including pneumatic valves, later in 2019. Nathan Irvine, Product Specialist for |

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the Parker Hannifin Pneumatics Division, the tool also allows for filtering by key attributes or exploring all solutions without excessive required inputs. “As application parameters are applied, a list of possible solutions is presented. After completing all specifications, Virtual Engineer’s Compare feature will clearly display the differences between the most suitable products, including expected life and relative cost,” said Service. Try the tool at solutions.parker. com/virtualengineer.

Aventics at Emerson, said that online pneumatic product configuration tools are gaining popularity as a self-service solution for engineers. “They allow quick product selection, part number generation, and easy communication with manufacturers,” Irvine said. “Our product configurators allow on-the-fly generation of 2D and 3D CAD models and dimensioned drawings for immediate integration into machine designs. The customer also benefits from all details being uploaded automatically in the ERP system to speed ordering and production. Another example is easy customization of the pressure output and electrical input signal range of our electropneumatic pressure regulator valves. 

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| courtesy Aventics



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Meanwhile, Latino said that they still see servo-pneumatic filling a space between standard pneumatic and electric drive motion. Force control, reduced weight, and simpler design are all included in servo-pneumatic. The other hot area for Emerson is web-based sizing tools, such as Aventics’ CylinderFinder, which allows for quick product selection guidance based on application parameters and desired product features.  “The results of Aventics’ engineering tool calculations are made available to the user for validation. In most cases, the sizing tools are linked to product configurators for one-stop product sizing, selection, CAD generation, and additional support including immediate online purchase, if desired,” said Irvine. “Fluid power continues to provide simple, cost-effective solutions for all types of actuation. Advanced pneumatic

position control incorporates precise electropneumatic valves, low-breakaway pneumatic cylinders, and accurate position detection along the entire stroke,” said Irvine. “We offer proportional pneumatic technology and new solutions for external position detection." These permit the integration of readilyavailable standard components to create a basic positioning system with open-loop or closed-loop control via analog or fieldbus communication. "Our Advanced Electronic System (AES)-based positioner allows precise positioning based on parameters held in a PLC. For applications not requiring fieldbus communication or a PLC, our Electro-Pneumatic Positioning System (EPPS) provides a simple solution for accurate positioning.” 30

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Applications expand

for versatile lead screws


mprovements in lead screw designs have meant screws that are increasingly competitive with other types of drive screws, including ball screws. For instance, lead screws can offer shorter lead times and better performance, all at a lower cost than other screw technologies. Quite a few lead screw manufacturers offer a range of anti-backlash options, superior accuracy on long lengths, as well as efficiencies over 80%, with no need for grease where TFE coatings are used. As Matt Mowry, North American market manager for Drylin products at igus, notes, as more systems are automated, lead screws become an important motion control component. “That’s because the market is looking for lower cost and more options as far as diameter and lead,” says Mowry. “The lead screw part of the drylin product line is the fastest growing segment, especially in the high-helix geometry (dryspin).”

The improvements and expanded range of options mean more design latitude for designers. This is especially helpful given other industry-wide trends, such as the evolving nature of the relationship with customers and their requirements for more customized solutions from manufacturers. That’s where customization services are offered to meet highly specific demands as well as the tools to help designers select just the right fit for their applications. One company familiar with the customization trend is Haydon Kerk Motion Solutions and Pittman. As Keith Knight, Manger of New Product Innovation puts it, “We have always used our catalog product as the starting point for serving our customers, but quickly adapt our product to meet the unique needs of their application. So much so that approximately 80% of product we sell is customized. More recently we have


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seen activity grow from customization of products, to fully custom axes of motion, or multiple axis sub-assemblies.” The company is seeing other trends, among which is a diversity of industries and applications. “From lab automation, to medical devices, to food and beverage and beyond this trend has continued to accelerate over the past several years and we expect this to continue,” says Knight. “One explanation is that many of our customer’s products require motion, but motion is not necessarily their area of expertise. They recognize the value of partnering with a highly technical motion component manufacturer where the value presents itself as reduced design and development time, lower overall costs, and a high degree of coordination and accountability between groups as the product moves from prototype through to full production,” adds Knight. Another example of the trends of higher performance and customization comes from Thomson Industries. A recent product combines a lead screw with a hybrid stepper motor with a built-in antirotational guidance. The aim is to simplify integrating linear actuator devices into systems and using a lead screw offers many benefits.


Customized spline rails with programmable IDEA Drives from Haydon Kerk Motion Solutions and Pittman combine a lead screw, guidance, and control in a single compact unit.

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The company has expanded its line of stepper motor linear actuators with models featuring built-in anti-rotational guidance. The new motorized lead screw actuator (MLA) product saves designers of high-precision, shorter-stroke applications the cost, time and maintenance worries related to designing and building externally guided systems themselves. The load of a typical stepper motor linear actuator attaches to a nut that rides back and forth as the screw turns. Translating the rotational motion of the motorized lead screw into the axial motion needed to move the load back and forth requires restraining the nut. Traditionally, application designers accomplish this with external guidance assemblies, but these can take up valuable space and add cost and complexity. The Thomson MLA



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These motorized lead screw actuators (MLA) from Thomson Industries are ideal for applications with stroke lengths shorter than 2.5 in., loads lighter than 200 lbf on various motor sizes, and requiring speeds below 20 in./sec. Linear resolution options range from 0.063 to 7.5 µin. of linear travel per step.

design eliminates the need for external guidance by surrounding the shaft with an aluminum cover tube with molded internal splines that lock onto the nut to keep it from turning. This design also features an integrated bushing that enables it to withstand small radial and moment loads. The new Thomson MLA is best suited for space-constrained, force-sensitive applications requiring shorter strokes that must be repeated with high precision. Examples include adjusting a microscope slide stage, tilting a computer monitor or vertically positioning a pipette onto a test tube array. |

3/12/19 12:41 PM


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Ball screws

pack more load capacity


ontinued developments in manufacturing and materials have improved ball screw performance, with the most recent generation of ball screws having greater load densities than ever before, leading to higher load capacities. High-load ball screws are being integrated into electromechanical linear actuator systems for use in applications with higher loads and more demanding environmental conditions. In fact, as electromechanical actuators and other mechanical motion components expand in capability for heavy duty applications, so does their capability to resist harsh conditions such as extreme temperatures, high particulate levels, chemical exposure, high-pressure washdowns, and shock and vibration. For instance, ball screws with twice the load capacity of standard ball screws have been introduced by Thomson Industries. The redesigned ball screws handle more than double the load capacity, providing ten times as much service life compared to standard ball screws at equivalent performance points. These higher load ball screws are suited for motion control applications in injection molding and large fabrication equipment. Some basic design changes impacted performance parameters. “By increasing ball size and optimizing ball track design, we’ve designed a ball screw that handles more than twice the capacity of a comparable standard ball screw,” notes Markus Brändle, Thomson Product Line Specialist EMEA & Asia for Screws. With more options for their designs engineers need tools to help simplify the selection process, and manufacturers are providing product sizing and selection tools to meet the need. Case in point – Bosch Rexroth features an online screw assembly configurator where users can design a screw assembly and place an order 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The image-guided configuration system makes designing a screw assembly quick and easy with a built-in individual dimension input check for technical feasibility. Both 2D and 3D data is available for download in all the common formats, addressing any compatibility issues with differing formats.



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These high-load ball screws from Thomson can replace roller screws or hydraulic systems in applications with axes that require accurate and safe movement of heavy loads, long and reliable life, and minimum maintenance. “Our customers require tools that provide quick solutions with minimal time utilized,” notes Rodney Rusk, i4.0 Business Leader, Bosch Rexroth Corporation. “With so many pressures facing modern manufacturing today, we as suppliers continue to develop and release new tools that not only help our customers optimize their time and knowledge, but demonstrates our mastery of the various subject areas. The development and deployment of such tools is not optional, but an industry requirement today,” adds Rusk. |

3/11/19 3:32 PM


NSKHPS Spherical Roller Bearings deliver dramatically increased load ratings, limiting speeds and operating life across an expansive range of series and sizes. With an optimized internal design that’s built to yield, NSKHPS Spherical Roller Bearings increase output and improve costefficiency across a vast array of industrial applications - outperforming, outlasting and keeping machinery and equipment reliably in motion.


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The new motor breeds: Smart, connected, compact

These Unimotor hd brushless ac servomotors from Control Techniques, a Nidec Motor Corporation business, are low-inertia pulse-duty servomotors that accept 230-V or 460-V input; are capable of 6.3 to 757.6 lb-in. output (to 2,257 lb-in. peak); and come in frame sizes of 55 to 190 mm. These motors have a torque profile matched to Digitax HD servo drives for up to 300% peak overload for peak dynamic performance. The Unimotor hd servomotors excel in dynamic flying shear; pick and place; and cut-tolength applications requiring hard accelerations and decelerations.


his year’s survey of trends in electric motors for motion control and automation revealed several trends and emerging developments in the use of synchronous ac motors; stepper motors, especially in closed-loop offerings; brushless motors of various types; and a smattering of specialty direct-drive offerings just making inroads. PROLIFERATION OF SYNCHRONOUS AC MOTORS With construction and operation much like those of brushless dc (bldc) motors, synchronous ac motors — sometimes billed brushless ac, permanent-magnet (PM) ac motors, and even PMACs — are now spreading from sophisticated servomotor applications into other industrial-drive applications. More specifically, they’re seeing increased use on printing and packaging equipment; conveyors; vehicle hub drives (which we'll explore in an article on AGVs and robotics in the special motion issue of Design World coming in May); hoists and cranes; and regenerative elevator drives.



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These lightweight low-inertia motors typically deliver 5 to 150 hp at high torque and efficiency. Case in point: Sinochron PMAC motors from ABM Drives maintain efficiencies 10 to 15% better than comparable induction motors. Synchronous ac motors’ variable-speed operation necessitates control via an inverter or VFD specially designed to start and synchronize the rotor-stator interaction. Just as bldc motors, synchronous ac motors use electronics (typically Hall-effect sensors) to dictate the correct amount of current to the windings. Arrays of four or more permanent magnets on the rotor make for synchronous operation. But unlike bldc motors with trapezoidally wound stator coils (and back-EMF output with trapezoidal waveform needing direct current input) synchronous ac motors are wound sinusoidally. That makes for sinusoidal back-EMF output (and the need for sinusoidal current input) as well as an audibly and electrically quieter motor. Visit and search, “difference between |

3/11/19 3:47 PM


The NEMA34 hybrid stepper motor from ISL Products shown here is used in industrial robotics.

bldc and synchronous ac motors” for more on this. Continuous commutation avoids torque ripple and makes for a power factor that is high ... and well as super-premium efficiency even when accounting for controller losses. Unlike induction motors that exhibit low efficiency and power factors at low speeds, PM motors also maintain performance without necessitating a gearbox or gearmotor design.

STEPPER MOTORS (PM AND OTHERS) IN NEW PLACES Small motors up to and including NEMA 34 and 60-mm size motors (in bldc and servo as well as hybrid stepper and closedloop stepper variations) continue to see rising use. These small motors represent up to 70% of the market (unit) volume. Leading applications are those in 3D printers, robotic handling, medical devices, and industrial motion designs. Our industry experts had some interesting input on stepper motors for these industries.

Shown here are Portescap 20DBM captive and noncaptive stepper-based linear actuators.

Harris Ayaz | Applications Engineer • ISL Products International: PM stepper motors are increasingly being used in industrial applications. We’ve had customers in the automatedprinting, packaging, and electronic-clock industries approach us recently. These motors are much smaller than the more popular |

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3/11/19 3:48 PM

MOTION SYSTEM TRENDS hybrid steppers. PM motors can be manufactured with customized mounting configurations and specialty connectors. The latest trends in the area of hybrid stepper motors include the addition (pre-integration by the motion-component supplier) of a linear screw and nut on this shaft to deliver a complete linearmotion solution. This makes steppers a more plug and play solution for customers. Other trends are the increase in double-shafted stepper motors as well as steppers with gearboxes. Jonas Proeger • Trinamic Motion Control: I don’t know how they build them, but the impressively small sizes of some motors is allowing for new applications. We’ve seen impressive designs for robotic-surgery applications, where there are six or more tiny motors in a fist-size end effector on a surgery robot. Most stepper motors are still operated in open loop, and that’s going to be the case for a long time — because after all, one of the biggest benefits of stepper motors is how they can offer reliable and precise positioning at low cost without the need of a feedback system. That said, we see a rise of closed-loop systems making stepper motors full-fledged servos — and they don’t have to hide behind their bldc or dc siblings. Ayaz | ISL Products International: The rise of closed-loop control is to mimic servos and their feedback. Stepper motors can pair with all-in-one driver solutions; this allows for closedloop control and reduces the need of purchasing two separate components. Many customers want a turnkey operation method, and steppers with closed-loop systems provide adequately for consistent loads. Proeger • Trinamic Motion Control: With more and more of the algorithms implemented in microelectronics, it’s my view that ultimately that there will be no difference between interfacing with a bldc servo or a stepper servo … or even an open loop stepper. When that time comes, the decision on which motor type to choose will only be a mechanical decision: While stepper motors have their sweet spot at low speed and high torque, bldc motors perform better at higher speed. CLOSED-LOOP STEPPERS AND ENCODER INNOVATION CROSS-POLLINATION Closed-loop stepper motors leverage high-resolution feedback and DSPs — both increasingly affordable thanks to Moore’s law. Globally, the use of these closedloop stepper systems will grow at 6.3% CAGR through 2023, according to the Prescient & Strategic Intelligence. Where once closed-loop control was overkill, now such setups boost efficiency on positioning or motion tasks that need loadresponsive control. Many uses are in robotics, packaging, and semiconductor manufacturing. These leverage the strengths of stepper-motor



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3/11/19 3:48 PM

NEW! Shown here is the Portescap B16 gearhead; B32 gearhead; and the R22HT, which is a power-dense mini-motor gearhead that is suitable for battery-operated tools.


construction even while outperforming traditional open-loop offerings. In many cases, closed-loop stepper offerings take the form of integrated motors that include power, drive and controller boards; a feedback device; communication and I/O electronics; and cables and connectors. Eric Rice • Applied Motion Products: Closed-loop stepper control continues to gain market share in positioning and velocity-control applications. This growth in use is primarily driven by new integrated motor designs that capitalize on the benefits of closed-loop control (such as greater torque output, higher acceleration rates, quieter operation, and greater efficiency) … but it’s also driven by the benefits of the integrated motor design itself. These benefits include fewer cables, no external drive or amplifier, simplified parts lists, and cost savings. Furthermore, the benefits of both closed-loop control and integrated motor designs are easy to observe — which helps end users feel confident when adopting these technologies for the first time.

+ Drive Motor _ EC 0 42B

Need for encoders in these closed-loop steppers and other motors has meant mounting demand for higher encoder capabilities (to complement today’s high-performance networking and connectivity options). Proeger • Trinamic Motion Control: The rise of stepper servos will spur a new generation of encoders. Typically, in embedded drives, the best choice is a magnetic encoder. That’s because such drives are compact and rugged and work with a simpler mechanical setup. The disadvantage here is if a design engineer wants to use it for FOC of a stepper, many magnetic encoders have limited resolution. Recall that stepper motors have a typical pole count of 50 compared to 1 to 16 for a typical bldc motor. Another drawback is their internal-processing latency. That’s prompted demand for high-resolution magnetic encoders with low latency.

Introducing the

EC042B IDEA™ Motor Series

Mike Maroney | Senior product manager • Applied Motion Products: The unquestioned dominance of optical encoders is over. Magnetic encoders now offer prices an order of magnitude cheaper (per component cost) than competitive offerings. Plus they offer easier unit assembly — thanks to an airgap controlled by the PCB as well as fixturing tolerances tighter than those of their optical counterparts. These factors combined with the rapidly technological advances in magnetic encoders are helping to shrink the performance advantage of the optical encoder … which means magnetic encoders will only continue to take more market share … and will even help encoders enter markets where they have not historically been feasible.

The IDEA™ Motor Series integrates a high-torque, precision servo motor and an IDEA™ Drive as a single compact unit Enables distributed control without the use of a costly PLC or external motion controller Offered in 3 motor lengths with continuous torque up to 0.15 Nm

Patrick Wheeler | Product manager • Aerotech: Another trend in encoder design and application in motors is that towards absolute encoders and other serial protocols. The challenge is the latency created by serialization of signals when high-level of process control must be combined with actual position of linear actuators or stages.

Putting your Ideas in Motion

NEED FOR SPEED (AND TORQUE): BRUSHLESS-MOTOR TRENDS Electronically commutated (EC) motors or ECMs — also known as bldc motors — are indispensable in an array of motion designs needing long life and top efficiency. As an aside … note that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) specifies that ECMs are those low-horsepower bldc motors with integrated 3 • 2019

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This is a NEMA-23 stepper-motordriven linear actuator from ISL Products. The stepper-based design is used in automated door locks. Read the Motion Trends piece on linear actuators for more actuator application examples.

drives and controls (so common in HVAC designs). The agency distinguishes between bldc motors (brushless dc motors with separate drives and controls) and EC motors (having integrated drives and controls). But many OEMs and motor suppliers use the terms interchangeably. What’s more, most manufacturers of EC (bldc) motors supply to both the HVAC and motion-control markets, which is accelerating the adoption of the terms EC motor and electronically commutated motor in the motion industry.

attached to a ring or sleeve on the outside of the stator coils for output that takes the form of motor can rotation. In smaller-scale robotics, digital servomotors commonly are used. These motors are cost effective and (with feedback) provide precise movement through PWM. We also see a lot of planetary gearheads paired with bldc motors — for speed reduction and increase in torque. With tactical robotic systems, planetary gearheads are best for high-torque and high efficiency as well as heavy load-carrying capacity.

Dave Beckstoffer | Product manager • Portescap: Brushless dc motors are trending to provide multiple options to cover a broader spectrum of applications. New designs are being tailored for speed, torque, or a combination of both. Slotless motors are adapting designs to be multi-polar for additional torque or optimizing magnetic design for higher speeds. Some applications — industrial hand tools, for example — are demanding both within their operating range – free run and tightening phases. Portescap’s Ultra EC motor development has excelled in these applications, providing a faster free-run phase and higher peak torque capability.

Shigenobu Nagamori, founder and CEO of the global motor manufacturer Nidec, predicts several trends in industries employing electric motors. “In 1973, I founded Nidec to replace all electric motors in the world with brushless dc motors … convinced of this technology’s potential. 45 years later, we’ve seen innovations related to brushless dc motors — the most impactful being expansion of the hard-disc drive (HDD) motor market in the 1990s. Now, there are four new trends of similar magnitude ..."

Ayaz • ISL Products International: New trends in brushless motors are emerging in the field of medical devices and robotics. We’ve been involved with projects in various industries but in these two markets, bldc motors are most common. Recently, we’ve seen more use of outrunner-type bldc motors in medical equipment and industrial applications. Previously outrunner-type bldc motors were most common in light recreational consumer electric vehicles. Outrunners have magnets |

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Home appliances traditionally powered by brushed motors are increasingly using brushless dc motors — Benefits include higher power efficiency, compatibility with battery power, and longevity. Nearly all motors in room air conditioners, refrigerators, washing machines, and vacuum cleaners are (or will be) replaced by brushless dc motors, added Nagamori. Electrification of automobiles — Migration from internalcombustion engines to electric motors is progressing rapidly … and myriad other previously engine-powered components are being replaced by versions driven by electric motors. Proliferating robots (including collaborative robots) — 3 • 2019



3/11/19 3:49 PM


MotionCompass is a webbased application from Portescap — accessible via motioncompass. — that helps engineers size and select motors for disparate motion applications. The software generates recommendations from a wide array of brushless dc and brush dc coreless products and includes performance curves in the output.

Most are equipped with motors as well as speed reducers. Nidec factories that once made HDD motors are now being geared for producing robotic speed reducers instead. “Robots are expensive but increasing use (even in people’s homes) will come as prices decrease,” added Nagamori. In fact, it’s predicted the world population will reach nine billion with three service robots for every human by 2050. Replacement of manual tasks in logistics and agriculture — The potential for drones in logistics and agriculture is especially high, though new breakthroughs and regulations are still needed. Nagamori expects these to happen within the next couple years. Proeger • Trinamic Motion Control: Regarding brushless motors, there is an interesting trend driven by the drone market. While typically in industrial applications we’ve seen mainly seen inrunner motors — often with NEMA double-digit-style flanges — we now see more and more outrunners that generate an impressive amount of torque at really low cost. Typically, they have a higher pole count then the traditional inrunners … resulting in smaller transmission ratios for gearboxes. They haven’t yet arrived in traditional industrial machinery, but they’re used in a lot of warehouse-automation systems as well as some collaborative robot projects.



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INTEROPERABILITY, SUPPLIER CONFIGURATION, AND DESIGN-RIGHT FUNCTIONALITY FROM MOTORS Interoperability is a motor functionality getting big play this year. Maroney • Applied Motion Products: We strive to keep products compatible across product lines and generations. As a baseline, we adhere to standard NEMA frame sizes on stepper motors and metric sizes on servomotors — and we certify our fieldbus implementations with relevant standards organizations … such as ODVA for EtherNet/IP, for example. Beyond that, our proprietary Q Programming language is the same for all our motors — from our smallest open-loop stepper drive to our largest servodrive. This lets engineers who use our products learn a single language and apply it to all axes of motion in all their systems — from the smallest setup axes to the largest and most complex. This reduces programming time and simplifies troubleshooting. In fact, our focus on backwards compatibility ensures that OEMs’ machines will be serviceable for years into the future and retrofittable with our latest offerings. Beckstoffer • Portescap: In the design-development phase of any new product, we ensure complete motor systems can be offered — |

3/11/19 3:49 PM

RELIABLE MOTION SOLUTIONS. QUIET, EFFICIENT, BRUSHLESS MOTORS DESIGNED FOR MEDICAL APPLICATIONS. Medical equipment requires high performance motors. Moog Silencer® series brushless DC motors offer unique designs that deliver results. Ultra-quiet functionality, smooth operation at various speeds and the advantage of high torque at a low cost. Learn more about Moog’s solutions for ventilators, centrifuges and other medical devices. Standard and custom motor models are available with options. Contact us to discuss your requirements, email

How can we improve your machines performance? Visit our product selector online: BN Silencer™ Series Brushless DC Motors

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MOTION SYSTEM TRENDS including motor, gearbox, and encoder. Mechanical compatibility guarantees the new design will integrate with other products with ease. Case in point: Some new motors might include a front face designed to accept the closest diameter gearboxes. The rear flange of the motor might have geometry to accommodate relevant encoders. This lets engineers use new products in systems … complete with motion feedback. Motor suppliers tout an expanding menu of value-add services (or in-house engineering support) for OEMs and design engineers seeing help in their motion-design work. Ayaz • ISL Products International: During the past 12 months we’ve helped customers (OEMs) through our value-added approach. We specialize in optimizing standard dc motors and gearmotors ... and tailor each motor or gearmotor to the OEM’s specific requirements. The most common value-add we provide is customized output performance parameters (such as speed and torque) for each customer application. We are also able to offer various motor and gearhead types, shaft customizations, material selections, magnet types, lead wires and connectors, and encoder variations. We use our in-house engineering experience to guide engineers in the right direction ... after all, motion control is a precise task. James Gallant | Director of operations • ISL Products International: We aim to be design engineers’ à la carte menu when it comes to ordering dc motors and gearmotors. Beckstoffer • Portescap: Innovation is our passion. We extend that passion to our customers by engaging with them early in their design to offer our expertise for the motion portion of their design. It goes beyond just the motor composite, we review the mechanical and electrical parts that engage with the motor composite to ensure the optimum efficiency of the system. A joint design effort results in a more efficient and compact final product. Nicole Ashton • Portescap: When we engage with customers earlier in the design process, it helps reduce motor integration risk while providing breakthrough design impact. When we work with a customer from their initial ideation stage, that’s when true collaborative innovation happens, and benefits maximized. Of course, online configuration tools and software continue to change design-engineering approaches. Beckstoffer • Portescap: Today’s design engineers require increasingly detailed information online — to support deeper research on available options for motion in their designs. We’ve developed MotionCompass software to provide design engineers a way to leverage our expertise anytime.



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By providing dynamic recommendations based on torque and speed, we’ve shortened the iteration process. That’s also because physical testing of motors has been replaced by online calculations. This lets design engineers confidently prototype with initial motor selections and ultimately reduces the time to get new products to market. Ayaz • ISL Products International: Brush-type motors are still common in industry. Brush dc motors have the advantage of not needing a controller for operation. A new trend we’re seeing is the rise in coreless brushed motors, also known as ironless motors. These motors are more efficient than comparable motors and exhibit less cogging torque — plus are made with magnets such as neodymium to deliver high torque. The increased use of coreless brushed motors is primarily in cordless and handheld devices in the medical industry — because the motors have relatively low current draw. Motors prebuilt with linear devices and other mechanical elements abound to simplify assembly. Many suppliers sell gearboxes with integrated leadscrews to reduce part counts and avoid mechanical issues associated with couplings and more. Consider a specific example: One medical-device (a single-use biopsy tool) is now built with a motor and gearbox as well as an integrated leadscrew and nut in a gearbox extension. Beckstoffer • Portescap: Gearbox design is being advanced by three design objectives — to increase efficiency, provide higher output torque, and accept higher motor input speed. This challenges design engineers to balance these three requirements as new products are developed. As one solution to address all three objectives, we introduced the R22HT … again, to provide significantly higher output torque and allow higher input speeds … as well as boost efficiency by stage … all in planetary technology. In fact, the design gives OEMs a broader selection of gear ratios to fine tune the torque and speed output for any application. Other miniature more designs include brushless dc cannulated gearmotors that allow inline driving of Kirschner wires and pins in orthopedic surgery. Other motors go still smaller. Richard Halstead | President • Empire Magnetics: One technology using cutting-edge micromotors and microdevices is known as LIGA — from a German acronym that’s short for lithography, electroforming, and molding and indicating processes using high-energy X-rays. The micromachining and microdevices at beamline facilities require designs constructed of gears, motors, and other components that are tiny … as many LIGA structures have active areas of 0.25 to 4 mm. |

3/12/19 12:42 PM

maxon control electronics for strong DC brushed and brushless motors.

maxon motor control

Power under control.

When good control properties and fast startups are needed, maxon motor’s servo controllers are the ideal choice. The 4-Q PWM servo controllers have fast digital current and speed controllers with a large range. They offer highly efficient control of permanent magnet-activated DC motors.

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3/11/19 13:40:12 9:38 AM 04.08.2016


New technologies and applications for linear motors D

epending on the exact technology, typical linear motors can deliver unlimited strokes and (with feedback) accuracies to ±1 μm/100 mm. Speeds range from inches to 1,000s of inches per second. Semiconductor manufacture and assembly as well as machine-tool applications continue to account for the majority of linear-motor applications. However, increased focus on efficiency is spurring new applications for linear motors on axes in packaging, material handling, automotive, off-highway, and general automation. That’s because the direct-drive nature of linear motors makes for top efficiency from linear motors (thanks to negligible mechanical losses) as well as fast and precise (or slow and extremely steady) strokes. So in recent interviews, we asked industry experts where exactly linear motors replacing other linear-motion technologies — and other questions about new technologies aimed at further boosting the performance of linear-motor designs. Here’s what they had to say. William Fang | Engineer • Chieftek Precision USA: Linear motors have far longer life than mechanical linear actuators in short-stroke applications, because they’re not susceptible to wear, shock, and fatigue issues. Linear motors also excel on long-stroke axes. Just consider magnetic-levitation trains, which are essentially linear-motor applications having stroke lengths of many miles. Much the same way, precision linear motors for industrial applications have essentially unlimited stroke lengths. That’s in contrast with most rotary-to-linear-based designs used in motion-



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This is Chieftek Precision’s ultra-small single-axis TC1-D dc driver. It can drive linear and rotary permanent-magnet synchronous motors (PMSMs). One key strength is its ability to accept various types of digital, analog, and absolute encoder feedback.

control applications such as leadscrews, which have speed limits due to their tendency to whip or thrash beyond a given value. So linear motors are increasingly applied on long-stoke axes where such screws or rack-and-pinion sets might get used despite limitations — on robotic seventh-axis systems, for example. Here, linear-motor designs can be built and installed in 1-m sections – a level of modularity impossible with leadscrews. In one recent installation, a 16-m-long robotic seventh axis based on one long linear-motor installation automates a large assembly area of an LCD production facility. This makes for reduced wiring and (where linear-motor axes move batterypowered tools) no exposed cables or cable carriers at all. DO YOU OFFER DESIGN ENGINEERS ANY VALUEADDED SERVICES? DO THESE INTEGRATORS DESIGN THE MECHANICAL BUILD (INCLUDING THE GEARMOTORS OR LINEAR MOTORS) OR THE SETUP OF CONTROLS AND NETWORKING? |

3/11/19 3:58 PM

MOTORS - LINEAR Peter Zafiro • LinMot USA: Our partners — often high-tech distributors — add a lot of value. These folks are leading the charge towards offering more engineering services … especially when it comes to machine integration. Most of the houses were historically electrical distributors, so originally worked in “pipe and wire” utility projects … and then expanded scope to electrical machine integration. But of course, mechanical and mechatronics integration is necessary for machine builds as well. That’s why many distributors are stepping up and keeping mechanical and electrical engineers on staff to support customers in design work … and those are the partners that we’re really gravitating towards, as they solve a lot of problems for smaller to medium size OEMs specifically. WHAT DO YOU SEE DESIGN ENGINEERING MOST WANTING TO OUTSOURCE? Zafiro • LinMot: Not all OEMs these days have copious motion-engineering experience staff … and of course, they don’t do motion applications every week; they might engage in motion design once or twice a year. They need outside expertise to come in and help. That’s a fit for us (and our distributors) because linear motors are direct-drive systems requiring highly precise calculations upfront — including calculations of what the axis is going to move … and where … and how fast … and with what motion profile. After the initial work, the OEM can modify future designs based on those first calculations. We provide the application expertise and the OEM can take it from there. WHAT ARE OTHER BENEFITS OF POSITIONING BASED ON LINEAR MOTORS? Fang | Chieftek Precision: Another benefit of direct-drive positioning based on linear motors is the way in which it allows processes to occur directly on the production line. Reconsider LCD-panel manufacture: Here, overall plant yield in increased when post-production processes detect (and save for commercial sale) nearly perfect panels. Linear motors move probes about flagged LCDs for pixel verification. Then the linear-motor-based system moves other tools such as cutters and lasers over the LCD’s pixels needing remanufacture — those for which the controlling transistor is stuck on, for example. Here, the system cuts that transistor off and then replaces it. Or in other cases, the station might fix or replace the electronic traces. Such stations in an LCD production facility increases yield — leveraging the sub-micron positioning accuracy of linear-motor-based designs. Another electronics example is in the manufacture of smartphone covers. Here, linear-motor-driven laser cutters help make their tapes and holes for screw assembly very accurate. WHAT ARE SOME NEW LINEAR-MOTOR-RELATED TECHNOLOGIES AVAILABLE NOW … AND ON THE HORIZON? Patrick Wheeler | Product manager • Aerotech: One trend in drives is to fit more capability per square unit of back panel space. Many customers are working towards either making systems compact (taking up less floor space) or getting more capability out of a given design footprint. So our approach is to integrate multiple features in all-encompassing tightly-packaged electronic drives … which capture motor control, encoder feedback, home and limit-switch feedback, laser outputs, and multiple general purpose I/O in a single electronic device. These drives have been very well received by the market.

3 • 2019

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Fang | Chieftek Precision: At the recent ATX West in Anaheim, Calif. we previewed our new TC1-D servodrive (we’ll soon be releasing to market) along with stock 8-A and 20-A (1.5 kW and 5 kW) TC-1 Series drive products we already sell to complement linear-motor applications. Our TCB-1B Series drive was also on display — what I would classify as Chieftek’s 1.5-generation drive. This drive supports all standard encoder formats — with connectivity and functionality for sin/cos, resolver, Tamagawa Seiki, Nikon, Mitutoyo, EnDat, and bidirectional synchronous serial interface (BiSS) feedback. The inclusion of both sin/cos and resolver support is unique. The exceptionally compact single-axis TC1-D dc driver we previewed runs on 48 V with a continuous output of 30 A. In fact, theoretical output is far higher … but Chieftek is currently executing careful burn-in testing and verification on the drive to ensure total reliability. Target applications for these drives include electric vehicles, robot arms, or integration directly into linear stages for embedded control. It has all the same encoder features of our TC1-B Series drive … which is in sharp contrast with comparable drives currently on the market that are limited to a few digital feedback options. Because the drive design relies on a single microcontroller, the circuitry is also compact for a board of about 2 x 2 in. The aim is to sell the drive in three versions: as naked core modules to be integrated into users’ motherboards; as units for use with a breakout board using JST connectors (for integration onto robotic arms, for example); and a more traditional version with a case and bigger connector case in the so-called “bookshelf” case to install in a traditional control cabinet. Zafiro • LinMot: We use temperature sensors on the windings of all our linear motors — so users can get top output performance … without risk. The problem with designs that employ thermistors or switches is their lag time. This lag time between actual winding temperature rise, and when the temperature increase is sent to the control system for corrective action is the issue. In contrast, our linear motors’ temperature sensors track actual temperature in real time — and our drives run algorithms to immediately reduce current to the motor during rapid temperature rises. Yes — in some cases that means the axis won’t complete its stroke in the preset amount of time … but the system prevents motor overtemperature faults and even motor destruction. Basically, our system won’t let you destroy the motor.



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Inherently direct-drive linear motors from LinMot USA include position and temperature sensors and electronic nameplates (shown here in the green electronics actuator-body cutaway); slider with neodymium magnets (in a stainless-steel tube); and stator. In the stator are the motor windings (here colored orange and red) and bearings for the slider.

WHAT’S THE POINT OF TRACKING MOTORTEMPERATURE INFORMATION BEYOND PREVENTING MOTORS FROM BURNING UP UNDER EXTREME CONDITIONS? Zafiro • LinMot: We support a lot of designs destined for extreme environments with our IP69K stainless solutions engineers just can’t automate with other technology. Consider certain cutting applications using our motors in pairs at 90% duty cycle. Here, temperature control of the motor lets users vary motor speed and cutting speed; depending on the rather inconsistent material entering the cutting station (and its density and other qualities) motor temperature may rise. When the change affects the actual cutting process, modifications lower system throughput until the challenging piece clears. Of course, this is one very cool application; most applications just involve going from point A to point B — as in reject applications and pick-and-place applications. More and more end users consider data important – exactly the point of Industry 4.0 data for trend analysis. Recording how certain product was made under one set of conditions … and a product 1,000 pieces later was made under another set of machine conditions. Of course, the millionth piece made by a given piece of equipment won’t be identical to the first piece. There’s always something changing in the environment (such as humidity and temperature) and all the mechanical parts in the equipment (such as bearings) slowly wear. |

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Degradation of machine components becomes evident by the time that machine outputs its millionth piece … and clear trends (if recorded) can indicate when preventive maintenance is prudent. This is a game changer for running an efficient manufacturing process. WHERE IS STAINLESS STEEL OVERKILL? DOESN’T IT MAKE THE LINEAR MOTOR HARDER TO COOL? Zafiro • LinMot: Applications where engineers want to use stainless-steel motors abound. Our stainless motors are laser welded, so completely sealed — and nothing can get into them. But indeed … stainless is a very poor conductor and requires special motor design features to allow heat dissipation. Liquid cooling is a leading approach here. However, some applications can’t accommodate the subcomponents for liquid cooling … and others can’t bear the added cost. These may need to use different technology … and maybe something that isn’t IP69K. That’s the issue: In these cases, there are few options to build a truly clean machine design. There may need to be a stainless skin around the motor drive system and possibly sealing (always problematic to severe cleaning environments) to prevent protruding components from allowing contamination of the housing interior. CLEANABLE MACHINE DESIGNS WOULD CERTAINLY HELP REDUCE THE NUMBER OF BEEF, CRACKER, AND LETTUCE RECALLS LIKE THE ONES WE’VE HAD IN RECENT YEARS. Zafiro • LinMot: Many applications are moving quickly towards clean and cleanable machine builds, so end users can feel comfortable about direct food contact and use any number of cleaning solutions without issue. I believe the recent romaine-lettuce recall was the first time since 2005 the entire industry stopped production — because they |

04b Motors - Linear — Motion Control Trends V4 03.19.indd 51

| Image courtesy Chieftek Precision

couldn’t pinpoint where tainted product originated and where the contamination occurred. It took more than a week to figure it out. Completely cleanable equipment that actually withstands aggressive cleaning and washdown will allow operators to rest easy. The only challenge here is ensuring good cleaning practices. Now, many operators are stuck: “I can’t clean this because I’d destroy my drive and motor components.” Better machine cleanability is going to become more and more the norm. And more companies like ours will provide components that achieve exceptional results in these very tough environments.

PI’s new A-351 gantry positioning stage provides high performance for precision automation. Ironless linear motors eliminate cogging for smooth motion (without vibration) and better velocity control.

3 • 2019



3/12/19 12:44 PM



Cables for a data-driven world

CAN STACK LINEAR ACTUATORS | courtesy of Helukabel


DINGS’ MOTION USA 335 Cochrane Circle Morgan Hill, CA 95037 408-612-4970

s automated machinery continues to change through the use of IoT-enabled technologies, with updated standards and the need for faster speeds and production, more pressure is put upon the cables that are used to control, power and carry these critical signals. Recently, Horst Messerer, data, network, and bus technology sales manager at Helukabel shared his thoughts on changes the company is seeing with its relationships with customers and how it is adapting cable designs to meet these needs. Q: HOW DOES YOUR COMPANY ENSURE INTEROPERABILITY BETWEEN ITS OFFERINGS AND PRODUCT FAMILIES? A: To ensure that our components work with other component manufacturers, we work closely with OEMs like SEW, FANUC and Siemens to ensure that our cables meet their standards. For data cables we submit our cables to the leading associations like CC-Link, to make sure that they comply with the standards set forth by them. Other associations such as PROFIBUS and PROFINET list our products on their website to show we comply with their standards. With end users — including those in the automotive business at Daimler, BMW, VW, and Ford — we work with engineering and purchasing departments to get our products onto approved supplier lists ... which means our products have been approved because they meet specifications required to be in manufacturing plants. 52

05a Networking Connectivity Cabling & IoT — Motion Control Trends V3 03.19 LE MG - FINAL.indd 52


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4/2/19 9:36 AM


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Announcing the future of


| courtesy of Helukabel

We extensively test drag chain as well as robot and wind cables at our R&D testing facility to ensure our own quality standards and those of our partners and customers. We can provide our customers with certified test reports on our continuous-flex cables from our mechanical test center, as well as high frequency test reports on our data cables.  

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Q: HOW IS THE IIOT AND INCREASINGLY NETWORKED MANUFACTURING PROMPTING CHANGES IN THE WAY MOTION SYSTEMS ARE INSTALLED? WHAT ARE SOME CONNECTIVITY-COMPONENT FEATURES TO HELP FUTURE-PROOF DESIGNS? A: The advancements in IIoT are causing industrial Ethernet cables to be manufactured with a twisted quad structure that allows the same signal runtime between each pair. This is critical for data transmission in applications that require real time or industrial real-time updates for machines to perform at high speeds. We are also seeing the trend of applications requiring the use of hybrid cables to lower installation time, minimize component size to shrink the size of machines, and reduce cable and connector stock volumes — instead of stocking a power cable, a data cable, and a connector for each, you have one hybrid cable and one hybrid connector. In terms of connectivity-component features to help futureproof designs, we are also seeing “smart” components that selfdiagnose — for example, those that can count bit failures in drag chain cables that will notify maintenance to replace the cable before it breaks once a pre-determined limit is reached There is also a movement to increase the use of PUR cables due to their higher lifetime than PVC cables in continuous-flexing applications. Additionally, more and more plug-and-play solutions are being used — including industrial Ethernet harnesses with RJ45 or D-/X-coded M12 connectors.


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Update on CC-Link IE TSN and motion-control applications


ime-sensitive networking (TSN) is not a protocol but an update to improve the IEEE Ethernet standard … and let engineers use general-purpose Ethernet for increasingly fast and sophisticated control and automation. It includes IEEE802.1AS defining its time-synchronization scheme and IEEE802.1Qbv defining its timesharing scheme. These make for punctual and reliable data and signal transmission to get synchronized and deterministic communications over Ethernet. In a recent conversation about TSN, Design World asked CC-Link Partner Association for the Americas director Timothy Lomax as well as CLPA-Americas manager John F. Wozniak, P.E. several questions about CC-Link IE Time Sensitive Networking (TSN) — a new network offering based on CCLink IE. CC-Link IE TSN supports integration of Operational Technology (OT) and IT while boosting the performance and functionality automated system communications. Here’s what Lomax and Wozniak had to say when specifically asked about how CC-Link IE TSN supports motion designs.



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HOW DOES TIME-SENSITIVE NETWORKING (TSN) HELP MOTION APPLICATIONS? Lomax: Over the last few decades, motion control has shown incredible advancement. Today’s designs include internal processing of motion-control commands and related functions … and other hardware driving ever-increasing performance. Consider high-resolution encoders: Now these are to 24 and 25-bit resolution … and we’re constantly seeing higher resolutions from encoders for motion applications. Here and elsewhere, the trend towards higher Smart factories need to gather performance continues production information in unabated for servo real time; process it via edge motion … and these computing; and transmit benefit from components it onward to IT systems. and networking (TSN in Leveraging production-site particular) to synchronize data in this way necessitates disparate motion axes. a stable high-speed network such as CC-Link IE TSN. |

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In this CC-Link IE TSN application example, a servo motor is momentarily stopped during an alignment operation, and a vision system validates the quality of the workpiece.

WHAT ARE NETWORKING CHALLENGES SPECIFIC TO MOTION CONTROL? Wozniak: For motion applications, the biggest concern isn’t necessarily network speed. Rather, it’s jitter. So an engineer can have a slow motion control … but if it exhibits absolutely zero jitter (which means that latency is always the same amount of time) it’s an acceptable motion network. Unfortunately, traffic over standard generalpurpose internet protocol (IP) Transmission Control Protocol and User Datagram Protocol (TCP and UDP) networks always exhibit jitter … and signals on that network can come nanoseconds (or more) sooner or later than expected. TSN prioritizes signals and dedicates a lane and portion of the cycle time for prioritized messages. During a blockout time preceding the reserved cycle time, messages that threaten the prioritized messages’ timing are prevented from entering the TSN switch. CC-Link IE TSN also divides messages to ensure reliability. Set timeframes for set motion signals dramatically reduce latency (jitter time) and make the system predictable and deterministic. |

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Here, a CC-Link IE TSN-compatible servo amplifier and vision sensor could enable time synchronization to let the vision sensor accurately scan and process the attributes of the workpiece while being moved by the servomotor. Such setups could boost cycle time and reduce wiring. The large volume of image data from the vision sensor can transmit via IP communication using the same single-network system — having less wiring and the same servo-control performance as traditional setups.



3/11/19 4:15 PM


CC-Link IE TSN combines Gb bandwidth with time sensitive networking to deliver open networking for smart factories.



Lomax: TSN supports motion, sequence control, and safety functions and their related hardware offerings — including those for traditional I/O and safety, servo motion, CNC, and process functions. TSN even supports the challenging application of machine vision. As mentioned, the use of common Ethernet connectivity also means this TSN network supports IoT functionality.

Lomax: CC-Link IE TSN supports IT systems and where edge processing and computing executes — acting as one network to bridge all systems together. Key here of course is having hardware architecture to enable that — with intelligence for diagnostics, safety, and security. Consider the automotive industry, which requires capacity and bandwidth. Many of this industry’s operations already have diagnostics to make troubleshooting machinery across vast facilities easier — because remember, these are operations so big that employees literally ride bicycles from one end of the plant to the other. So it’s helpful to know whether a problem is next door or all the way on the other side of the plant. The semiconductor industry — including teams developing the smartphone hardware of tomorrow — also needs built-in connection and connectivity from the machines in its facilities … as does the packaging industry. Look for manufacturers developing TSN-compatible products in this realm — for sequence control, safety, robotic applications, and HMIs, and the rest of it — with not just talk about TSN but actual hardware for engineers to connect and try.

HOW DOES CC-LINK IE ACCOMMODATE DEVICES COMMUNICATING AT DISPARATE SPEEDS? Wozniak: CC-Link IE Field runs off an ASIC and is fixed at 1 Gbps. CC-Link IE Field Basic (the general-purpose CC-Link IE) accommodates 100 Mbps or 1 Gbps networking such as TSN. But we recognize that not everybody needs 1 Gbps … and these engineers can execute slower software implementations while maintaining a path to motion and TSN. They can put lowerlevel software devices on TSN that may transmit messages once every five seconds, but that’s not going to affect devices sending messages once every millisecond. Other networks wait for the former to transmit; in contrast, TSN (and CC-Link IE-implemented TSN) proceeds with handling the every-millisecond signals and “works in” the every-five-second messages. It’s a network that satisfies an array of applications, including those that have cost constraints … because it’s a software-based network that accepts slower devices … and it’s not expensive. In fact, CC-Link IE TSN lets engineers use hardware or software for masters or slaves (and not just ASICs) for one or the other or both. This is one of the few networks that lets engineers employ software-software, hardware-hardware, or any mixture of hardware and software to get a complete network.



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Read more about other trends in connectivity for motion — including EtherCAT, IoT-enabled mechatronics, and network security — at and in the next Design World motion issue coming in May. |

3/11/19 4:15 PM



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3/11/19 9:42 AM


Advances in materials lead bearing trends in 2019


dvances in material science have been on the rise in the last few years and bearing industry experts are expecting 2019 to continue the trend. Engineers are either developing new materials or using existing materials in new ways to meet their customer’s needs. We asked some of the top thought leaders in the industry to weigh in on what’s new with the materials that keep bearings running smoothly.

“People are finding ways to manufacture PTFE more efficiently. Being able to get lead out of the equation has been a big step forward, lead does provide some lubrication benefits, but at the same time, it comes with environmental concerns and health and safety concerns. Being able to move away from it, especially with various environmental restrictions coming along, is critical," said Nik Poulakidas, Strategic Sales for CCTY Bearing Company.

LUBRICATION AND REGULATIONS Bearing lubrication can be messy, costly, and inefficient. It’s no surprise that many engineers are seeking to either reduce the need for grease and oil or eliminate it outright. While many companies are developing materials to reduce lubrication dependence, the diversity and scope of global regulations creates challenges. “Eliminating external lubrication is also a goal for many companies. There are more and more material regulations worldwide today — including Prop 65, FDA, and RoHS requirements requiring compliance. So an increasing number of engineers are looking to address these concerns upfront by having bearing materials available to meet their specific requirements,” said igus North American iglide Product manager, Nicole Lang. Engineers are also finding ways to manufacture existing materials in safer and more efficient ways. PTFE is not new. But the industry is now creating new ways to manufacture it and use it in different applications.

BLACK OXIDE FINISH FOR STEEL BEARINGS NKE Austria GmbH is now making bearings with black oxide finish. The protective layer improves the bearings’ run-in and wear characteristics and protects against environmental effects. In applications like wind turbine gearboxes, black oxide finish is a cost-effective and technically viable means of prolonging the service life and performance of rolling bearings. The black oxide finish forms a protective layer for steel parts. NKE says that in a multistage chemical process, the surface layer of the treated parts is converted into a 1 to 2 micrometer thin mixed ferrous oxide layer creating the characteristic black appearance. Black oxide finished bearing components have a set of unique technical characteristics, especially in the case of components that move relative to each other. Engineers can create multiple protective effects even if only one functional element (typically the rolling elements) is treated. Although, NKE says ideally all functional surfaces of a rolling element bearing, including the inner and outer ring as well as the rolling elements, should be black oxide finished. Black oxide finishing is already an established method in other industries. NKE is using this technology to improve the technical properties of its rolling bearings. The method has proven itself in practice especially with full complement cylindrical roller bearings, but other

This is a full complement cylindrical roller bearing NCF1880-SQ94D from NKE. NKE says that in a multistage chemical process, the surface layer of the treated parts is converted into a 1 to 2 micrometer thin mixed ferrous oxide layer creating the characteristic black appearance.



06 Bearings — Motion Control Trends 03.19-V3.indd 60

3 • 2019 |

3/12/19 10:17 AM

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3/11/19 9:42 AM


types of rolling bearing are also black oxide finished, depending on the application. At present, NKE is using this finish especially for cylindrical roller bearings. TOP COAT FOR CORROSION RESISTANCE ABB’s Dodge Food Safe mounted ball bearings are designed to withstand caustic, high-pressure cleaning and sanitation processes. These bearings are the first industrial bearings to achieve the IP69 water protection rating without the use of an end cover. Consumers health regulations increasingly challenge food manufacturers to guarantee higher food safety and hygiene standards. However, harsh chemicals and high-pressure sprays used in clean-in-place (CIP) procedures can quickly deteriorate bearing reliability. These bearings use a 100% stainless steel insert design combined with ABB’s top coat, KleenTec, to protect against corrosion. The smooth housing without a grease fitting minimizes contamination harbor points and is easy to clean. The bearing is sealed and lubricated for life to reduce maintenance costs. To prevent grease wash-out, the leading cause for bearing failure in washdown environments, the Food Safe bearing has lubrication protection. The Hydro armor sealing system, with a stainless-steel flinger and four contact lip seals, prevent water and contamination from entering the bearing. “Food Safe bearings solve the two most common reliability problems in the food industry - grease washout and corrosion,” said David Kaunitz, Dodge Mounted Ball Bearing Product Manager for ABB.

These bearings use a 100% stainless steel insert design combined with ABB’s top coat, KleenTec, to protect against corrosion. The smooth housing without a grease fitting minimizes contamination harbor points and is easy to clean.

ETX BEARING FOR RADIOACTIVE ENVIRONMENTS LM76’s one-piece ETX linear bearing/pillow blocks will not degrade in a radioactive environment. The LM76 team machines the bearing from a solid block of self-lubricating ETX. There are no other materials such as PTFE seals or lubricants present making these bearing-blocks maintenance free. Custom designed for use in nuclear power plants these linear bearing/pillow blocks travel on ceramic coated shafting completely submerged in radioactive water. Designed with a slight interference fit between bearing ID and shaft, contaminants are scraped from the shaft’s surface. The low frictional characteristics of ETX have little impact on drive force. ETX bearing-blocks are also FDA/USDA/3-A Dairy compliant. Common application environments include pharmaceutical, medical, food, and dairy processing. EXT has high continuous service temperatures up to 210°F (100°C) and offers good chemical and abrasion resistance, low moisture absorption, and resistance to staining. These ETX linear bearing-blocks with the slight interference fit keeps the bearing free from debris and bacterial contamination, are not affected by biological fluids, mild acids, can be washed down with cleaning agents, and steam cleaned.

LM76’s one-piece ETX linear bearing/pillow blocks will not degrade in a radioactive environment. The bearing is machined from a solid block of self-lubricating ETX.



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Power Transmission, Motion Control and Engine Braking Solutions

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Altra Motion — MCT 03-19.indd 63 3/11/19 9:45 AM


Trends in motion:

Mechanical friction torque limiter for fish-barrier hoist

Here we look at one example in the trend towards customized clutches and brakes.


eclamation District 108 is a 150-year-old water district located in the Sacramento Valley that provides irrigation, drainage, and flood protection to farms and rural communities in the area. But drainage and flood-control canals in this region pose a risk to adult salmon who return from the sea through the San Francisco Bay to make their way up the Sacramento River to spawn. One wrong turn may find the salmon traveling up dead-end basin drains that put them at risk of becoming | courtesy of Murray McCaig of Municipal Treatment Equipment. trapped and dying without fulfilling their life’s mission of reproduction. So to prevent this, Grimes, Calif.-based RD108 — in Six grated barriers hinged to underwater structures (at cooperation with the Department of Water Resources, their bottom edges) connect to cables on their top corners to State and Federal fishery agencies and local landowners act as large automated flaps. When meeting a screen in the — contracted help to reconstruct the Wallace Weir … a raised position, salmon bump into its diagonal underside. Their barrier at the Knights Landing Ridge Cut about 30 miles instinctual behavior here is to turn around and seek another route. north-northwest of Sacramento. This cut is where (especially Each of the six grates is individually raised and lowered by during flooding) most fish were entering the rural floodplain its own dedicated hoist. The original version of the hoist was with no bypasses or return passages to the river. engineered by Murray McCaig (now of Municipal Treatment Now the cut includes movable grated barriers (also Equipment) and two other designers in 1983 for use on watercalled picket weirs) to let water flow but prevent salmon control gates. The original stayed stationary once set … so if an from swimming onward. The grates are automated to operator closed the gate, it remained closed until an operator maintain the picket tips two feet above the water surface. reopened it.



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CLUTCHES & BRAKES Six grated barriers (each 16 ft x 29 ft) are shown here — and the rightmost screen in a lowered position. The grates are hinged to work as large flaps. Salmon that bump into the raised grates tend to turn around and seek another route. Image courtesy of Murray McCaig of Municipal Treatment Equipment.

But the fish-barrier application faced a complicating design problem. Debris buildup on the grates during flooding could induce sudden and unpredictable spikes in force at levels sufficient to pose structural risk to both the grates and their hoists. So the design’s engineers decided the grates had to automatically lower without intervention in such situations … to a level just sufficient to allow debris to be swept over the gate. That’s when Murray McCaig contracted Barnard Hydro Solutions to devise a mechanism that would lower the grates automatically upon overload. “We quickly realized that using load cells, controllers, and electric actuators to open the fish screens would be insufficient and too slow to effectively dissipate the sudden loads,” explained Jeff Barnard, P.Eng. for Barnard Hydro Solutions Inc. “That’s why we pursued use of a torque-limiting device into the existing design.” This is a Mach III T8C2K-001 mechanical (friction) torque limiter installed on the fish-screen hoist system at the Wallace Weir fish rescue facility. It’s a B5 flangemounted unit 55 mm in diameter with total torque capacity to 17,000 lb-in.

CUSTOM-DESIGNED TORQUE LIMITER GIVES FISH GATE QUICK RESPONSE Years ago, Barnard worked for another company employing torque limiters from Mach III Clutch Inc. — torque-limiting couplings that plug directly into the #3 Morse taper inputs of heavy-duty power drills. The drills rotated 2-in. square operating nuts to raise and lower water control gates. Now this product is a Mach III catalog item.

Shown here is a Wallace Weir hoist arrangement designed by Murray McCaig and two other engineers, and first deployed in 1983. Item 5 is a Rotork actuator; item 3 a parallel helical drive with worm gear; items 8 and 9 a drum; item 7 a cross shaft; and item 11 a coupler. (From the June 21, 2017 Barnard Hydro Solutions Inc. report: Municipal Treatment Equipment — Wallace Weir Fish Screen Hoist • Torque Limiting Device Design) |

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3/12/19 12:46 PM

MOTION SYSTEM TRENDS Shown here is the retrofitted hoist system at the Wallace Weir. Mach III was initially brought onto the project by Ontario, Canada-based design engineer Jeff Barnard, P.Eng. for Barnard Hydro Solutions Inc. Torque limiters were sold to the hoist system designer and supplier contracted Barnard Hydro Solutions — Municipal Treatment Equipment based in Golden, | courtesy of Colo. Murray McCaig of Municipal Treatment Equipment.

Highest Torque in the Smallest Space ... or the largest.

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Remembering the torque-limiting solution, Barnard connected with Mach III engineer Ron Ashbrook and worked with Ashbrook on a custom design to mount between the fish gate’s Rototork electric actuator (and SAF77 gearbox) and its parallel helical drive. The torque limiters to open the fish screens — customized T8C2K-001 mechanical friction torque limiters from Mach III — support the dead weight of the actuator and right-angle gearbox — 255 lb. They withstand constant exposure to the outdoor

Clutches, Brakes & Power Transmission Products

17,000 LB-IN 30% [SPRING FREE HEIGHT = 0.221'']


environment. They also allow in-field adjustments and directly connect to the flanges of the design’s existing components. An enclosed housing has two access ports covered by removable sealed panels; the ports allow access to torque adjustment nuts. In fact, the ports’ width is customized to accommodate an open-end wrench for loosening an internal jam nut; then this nut can be rotated until the target torque is reached … and the jam nut retightened to hold the slip-torque setting. An adapter plate facilitates connection

New clutch or brake torque is approximately 40% less than rated design torque until the friction and drive discs are worn in (lapped, burnished). The length of time for wear in to occur depends upon the application.


166 LB


• electrical, mechanical, pneumatic & hydraulic models • system design and integration • expert engineers working on every order



(4) Ø0.50'' [Ø12.7] THRU 9.25 [235]

5.12 [130]

Ø11.81 [Ø300] Ø10.24 [Ø260] Ø9.84 [Ø250] Ø6.10 [Ø155] 64°

0.20 [5]

2.343 2.335 Ø4.13 [Ø105]

0.632 0.630

5.16 [131]

Ø2.1664 2.1654 [Ø55]

Ø2.1654 2.1644 [Ø55]

6.02 [153]

Ø7.0886 7.0876 [Ø180]

M20 X 2.5 THD. 1.38'' [35] DEEP

Engineering Solutions for Clutches & Brakes 120°

(4) M12X1.75 THD 1.18'' [30] DEEP ON A Ø8.465'' [Ø215] BC

This drawing and the information contained on it are confident ial and proprietary, and any reproduction, distributions or disclosure of this drawing or information or any manufacturing of the products or parts depicted on it are expressly prohibited without written consent of Mach III Clutch, Inc.


R. Ashbrook







MACH III CLUTCH, INC. 859-291-0849

Phone: 860-643-1531 291 Boston Tpke, Bolton, CT 06043





| T8C2K-001 mechanical (friction) torque limiter CAD drawing courtesy Mach III.


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to the parallel helical drive; the limiter’s housing is designed to support the overhung load of the Rototork actuator and its SEW SA77. Mach III supplied a total of six T8C2K-001 units — one for each hoist. The torque limiters are B5 flange-mounted units of nonstandard frame size; have a 55-mm input bore and 55-mm output shaft, and total torque capacity to 17,000 lb-in., according to Mach III president Lesli Riehemann. They’re also factory burnished … with slip torque set to 12,967 lb-in. (to within ±10%). HOW THE FINAL DESIGN WORKS The new hoist systems at the Wallace Weir were placed into service in January 2018, and Reclamation District 108 continues to manage it. The torque limiters hold the 16 x 29-ft grates in the raised position until force against the screen exceeds 13,500 lb. The force then travels back through the helical drive and into the torque limiter, exceeding the set torque value of approximately 13,000 lb-in. Then the torque limiter’s internal friction and drive surfaces slip against one another to let force on the grate unwind the cables … and lower the grate in the process. Water (and debris) flows over the gate; position sensors detect the change in the grate’s position and send an alarm. An operator is dispatched to the site to reset the grate. The torque limiters also protect the design’s actuators when the latter are engaged to raise the grates in the event of a jam.



Don’t eat up valuable time searching for friction brakes, clutches and torque limiters. For more than 45 years, machine designers have relied on us for made-to-order products that meet their exact requirements. We are easy to reach, quick to respond, and deliver both catalog and custom products within reliable lead times. › Pneumatic and mechanical models › Torque capacities to 60,000 › Experienced application assistance One call or email connects you with an engineer: USA 859-291-0849




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Controller trends: E

edge, fog computing and more

dge computing and greater connectivity are some of the key trends controller manufacturers are seeing in their industry. Here’s what else they told us they’re seeing in the way of tech trends. WITH RESPECT TO THE IOT AND IIOT, WHAT KINDS OF CAPABILITIES DO YOUR COMPONENTS OR ENGINEERED DESIGNS INCORPORATE TO SUPPORT FUNCTIONS RELATED TO FOG COMPUTING ON LOCAL NETWORKS? Lee Cheung | Product Marketing Engineer II (Controller/ Visualization) • Mitsubishi Electric Automation, Inc.: Our iQ-F and iQ-R controllers feature a built-in web server that allows users to access status information, diagnostics, error and operation history from any connected device with a web browser. Advanced GOT2000 HMIs with GOT Mobile functionality offer even more capabilities with web pages that can be beautifully designed with simple drag and drop operation. GOT Mobile is easily configured even without any IT or web technologies knowledge, and can also serve up work instructions, manuals, and troubleshooting videos. Additionally, iQ-R controllers and advanced GOT2000 HMIs can deliver factory floor data directly to upper level IT systems databases.

Mike Chen | Director of Automation Center Americas • Omron Automation Americas: We’ve debuted our latest Sysmac AI Controller as an Edge-based controller with machine learning engine embedded. To Omron, Edge is literally inside a machine, with direct access to data values being collected within the machine controller processing time. Data is analyzed within the machine and utilized within the user program without any data needing to go up into the local Fog or remote Cloud based IT infrastructure. We give our customers the option to connect their machine to Fog level SCADA software, in-house custom software solutions or long-term historian databases, but those systems are not required for high-speed high-accuracy anomaly detection on process data to be used for equipment maintenance or productivity optimization. Omron sells a robust line of Industrial PCs that reside on local Fog level networks that can run Omron InduSoft SCADA software, or other Windows/ Linux based applications for visualization or batch data analysis.

Stepper cDriver Modules from Trinamic Motion Control can control and drive up to six axes standalone, or from a host over UART or CAN interfaces. The manufacturer simplifes programming with CANopen as well as its TMCL motion-control language.



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CONTROLLERS Rodney Rusk | i4.0 Business Leader • Bosch Rexroth Corporation: Fog or Edge computing is common both in our Bosch manufacturing methodology as well as an integral part of many of the connected solutions that we adopt. Like many companies, we jealously guard our data and our knowledge knowhow. Thus Fog computing is one methodology that helps us to optimize. Looking at this from three viewpoints, we find ways to merge technology into a holistic plant ecosystem that feeds the necessary data into our Edge devices and our cloud-based resources. At the top level, Fog (or Edge) computing to drive localized data analysis, condition monitoring and helping to drive machine learning. Within this sphere we work with such Bosch products as our Nexeed Production Performance Manager, Nexeed Production Quality Manager and Improvidus OEE analysis tools. In the middle level, we network these tools to smart devices on our manufacturing floor to not only empower our associates with up to date real-time information, but allow for localized data comparisons. One example here would be the utilization of the Active Cockpit in our production rally/meeting areas. Using this tool, we can look at performance from individual machines, compare data sets, set priorities, capture decisions and respond to the needs of our production environment quicker. Moving down to the lowest level, the actual machine level, by using smart devices such as our MTX CNC controls; our PRC7000 Adaptive Welding Controller or our IoT Gateway devices, we can pull data up through the new or older system to drive continuous improvement. In the case of the PRC7000 Adaptive Welding Controller, we can make real-time decisions to adjust the current voltage being applied to the welding operation and optimize consistent weld spots while reducing material losses.

the-art PLC kernel, IndraLogic 2G, integrated homogeneously into the IndraWorks software tool and the multitasking runtime system. With its motion control functionality, the XLC handles machine applications ranging from simple point-to-point motion to the synchronization of multiple axes that use Rexroth’s FlexProfile to integrate complex motion sequences. Another example would be the Bosch Connected Industrial Sensor Solution (CISS). The CISS is a multi-sensor device detecting acceleration and vibration as well as environmental conditions. The robust housing and the small outline makes it perfectly suitable for industrial retrofit applications such as condition monitoring and predictive maintenance. Configuring the device lets customers address a broad variety of use cases by interpreting the sensor data by smart algorithms from eight possible inputs such as acceleration, temperature, vibration and humidity. DESCRIBE WHAT YOU’RE SEEING IN TIME-SENSITIVE NETWORKING (TSN) AND ITS APPLICATION IN MOTION APPLICATIONS. Mike Chen • Omron Automation Americas: All Omron motion control capabilities have been standardized on the EtherCAT open network standard, as well as MACRO for specialized OEM applications. Using these high-performance deterministic network architectures, multiple motion devices can be synchronized to create complex electronically coordinated motion profiles, completely re-programmable and simulatable with direct control over torque, acceleration, deceleration, and jerk.

WHAT EDGE DEVICES DO YOU SUPPLY OR SUPPORT TO ALLOW FOR USE OF FEEDBACK SIGNALS OR DISTRIBUTED MOTION CONTROL? Mike Chen • Omron Automation Americas: Our latest Sysmac AI Controller is an Edge-based controller with a machine learning engine embedded as well as motion control. We give our customers the option to connect their machine to Fog level SCADA software, in-house custom software solutions or long-term historian databases, but those systems are not required for high-speed high-accuracy anomaly detection on process data to be used for equipment maintenance or productivity optimization. Rodney Rusk • Bosch Rexroth Corporation: The Bosch Rexroth and Bosch portfolio of products is quite expansive in the amount of manufacturing technology solutions that have feedback capabilities or motion controls resident on the devices. These pieces of equipment represent one example of i4.0 ready products that we produce for the external market and use extensively in our own manufacturing operations. For example, the IndraDrive XLC combines the performance of Bosch Rexroth drives with embedded logic capability on-board. The product allows for advanced PLC programming using state-of-

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The Gold Twitter servo drive from Elmo Motion Control delivers over 5,500 W of power and supports EtherCAT or CANopen networking. They weigh just 18 g and are less than 13 cm3 in volume.

Rodney Rusk • Bosch Rexroth Corporation: Given the strong position of Bosch in the on-board vehicle product segment and the need for time-sensitive networking, the company has a long history as an industry leader. This includes all three areas of time synchronization, scheduling and fault tolerances. Looking back, we can see the development and implementation of early CAN-BUS solutions within these on-board vehicles by Bosch, for example in airbag deployment systems. One of those areas was the early adoption of CAN-BUS within the Bosch Rexroth DC Tightening Systems, Platform 200 and 220, to provide rapid transmission of torque control data from the DC Tools installed on the line, back to the control panel and line management system. Today, when we look at the current generation of DC Tightening Tools from Bosch Rexroth, we find a high sensitivity to TSN and the improved transmission speeds that have resulted in the Platform 350 and now the NEXO Cordless DC Tool. The ability to provide time-sensitive feedback in an on-going assembly process is critical when dealing with minimal variation windows on safety critical applications like seat secure or restraint installations.



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Other examples of our experience in the TNS area can be seen in the full complement of our Controls Product Lines, whether we look at the MTX CNC, the IndraDrive Mi or the MLC PLC products. In each case the use of synchronization modes such as velocity and phase synchronization or standardized motion profile functionality that is built in to the systems have all become second nature to our development teams. In other areas, when fast absolute position of linear technology applications are required (+/- 4µm/m), such as when small rail deviation needs to be combined with multi-axis interpolation we look at our IMS-A line (Integrated Measuring System). These types of products allow us worldclass accuracy of position and allows us to communicate over interfaces such as Hiperface, SSI and DRIVE-CLiQ. HOW DOES YOUR COMPANY ENSURE INTEROPERABILITY BETWEEN ITS OFFERINGS AND PRODUCT FAMILIES? Lee Cheung • Mitsubishi Electric Automation, Inc.:Mitsubishi Electric uses a rigorous design and quality review process that includes testing to ensure

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seamless integration between product offerings. We are uniquely able to maintain this strict level of control because we design and manufacture our own products. This also guarantees that the latest software versions are always compatible even with older hardware regardless of the firmware version, which saves end users and technical support staff a lot of headache. Mike Chen • Omron Automation Americas: Omron has standardized on open networks such as EtherNet/ IP and EtherCAT to ensure the broadest interoperability with different automation devices, while still maintaining the high-performance that our customers expect. Between our own product families, Omron has created a single Integrated Development Environment (IDE) which provides a single interface for configuration, programming, commissioning, and troubleshooting across our core automation technologies: logic, motion, vision, safety, robotics, visualization, and enterprise connectivity. Jonas Proeger • Trinamic Motion Control: All of our products use the same protocols and interfaces, especially |

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Shown here is a new RIO-47162 Pocket PLC from Galil Motion Control. It has 64 digital I/Os (40 optically isolated digital inputs and 24 digital outputs) and 16 analog I/O as well as two Ethernet ports. Analog I/O includes an available 16-bit ADC/DAC option or 12-bit standard. The analog I/O is user-configurable for ±10 V, ±5 V, 0 to 10 V, or 0 to 5 V. DSUBs make for ease of assembly. The RIO-47162 measures 3.88 x 4.65 x 1.3 in.


Trinamic’s own TMCL protocol. One of the results is that you can get any evaluation board you want and connect them together using Trinamic’s modular evaluation system. In addition, our components always follow the same partitioning between hardware and software. We equip them with industry-standard interfaces such as SPI, Step/Direction and standard encoder interfaces. A typical setup consists of: 1. 2. 3. 4.

Microcontroller (not Trinamic product) Motion control IC, that generates ramps and commands current or target position via SPI Current control part, typically integrated in the motor driver, that generates a PWM-scheme The actual motor driver

Tomer Goldenberg • Elmo Motion Control: Interoperability of Elmo Motion Control’s servodrives and multi-axis controllers is guaranteed through adequate networking communication. EtherCAT implementation ‘by the book’ is mandatory not only to assure interoperability between Elmo products, but also in order to interoperate with third-party devices. Ensuring high confidence levels of interoperability in terms of fieldbus communication is a result of ongoing efforts to follow strict industry regulations set forth by the EtherCAT Technology Group (ETG). Elmo has built an inhouse lab with hundreds of I/Os and third-party devices with which it continuously tests every version of its products. Further, regular delegations from Elmo’s R&D team visit ETG for their European Plug-Fest events, of which the goal is to assure interoperability with other EtherCAT communication devices in the market. Rodney Rusk • Bosch Rexroth Corporation: Interoperability is one of the great challenges for both the provider and user of manufacturing technology. From our viewpoint, this is best served by not focusing on the individual product, but focusing on the ability of any products to be as scalable, flexible and open to as many “systems” as possible. Thus we try hard not to rely on one type of industrial protocol, for example, and we work diligently to make our products as compatible with non-Bosch solutions.


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Next level hydraulic control Delta RMC75 1 or 2-Axis

Delta RMC200 Up to 32-Axis

Delta RMC150 Up to 8-Axis

On a more practical day-to-day level, especially on the manufacturing floor, we have developed solutions that empower the users to bridge technology differences and try to meet the user where they are. For example, the use of our IoT Gateway device allows us to help bridge the gap between older equipment and pull data into useful analysis tools; and our Open Core Engineering (OCE) software lets the machine programmer program in the scientific language that they are most comfortable with. Finally at the higher software level, we have taken many of our stand-alone software solutions and have been unifying them under the Nexeed Suite of Software, creating a stackable solution set where we are actively pulling in various software modules (such as our Track & Trace and Intra-Logistics packages). Of course, this is an on-going development that has no real end date; we simply apply our philosophy and drive toward increased interoperability to meet the needs of our clients. WHAT VALUE-ADD SERVICES (OR INHOUSE ENGINEERING SUPPORT) HAVE YOU PROVIDED TO AN OEM OR OTHER CUSTOMER DURING THE LAST 12 MONTHS?

Fast, precise, simple and elegant. Use Delta RMC motion controllers and graphical RMCTools software to simplify and improve complex motion. Visit Delta’s website for videos, case studies, and specifications. Find a case study of your industry and application. 1-32 axes of synchronized position, velocity and pressure/force control. Discover simple, fast, precise electro-hydraulic motion at

Todd Mason-Darnell, Ph.D. | Marketing Manager – Services & Safety • Omron Automation Americas: Omron provides automation and safety systems engineering and integration services to OEMs and end users. Combining our in-house engineering resources with a network of certified partners, we support automation and safety engineering at all stages of the machine life cycle. Jonas Proeger • Trinamic Motion Control: Our business model is selling standard products. Nevertheless, we offer engineering support for key accounts and also design customized board-level solutions, if this helps the customer to achieve their goal faster. A typical application is for the development we did for a customer specialized on motorized prosthetics, where we developed a servo drive for the knee joint in an artificial limb.


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The customer provided the AI algorithms for the kinematics and interpreting the patients’ movements, while we provide the electronics and the software for the motion control.

troubleshooting. Production managers also benefit from being able to monitor production status to ensure that production targets are being met.


Mike Chen • Omron Automation Americas: Omron puts 7% of its annual revenue back into R&D across many technology sectors that is then applied into industrial automation, healthcare, mobility, energy management, and other business units. At this point, the Omron Industrial Automation business has not yet productized any wireless power transfer devices, but has released battery-less wireless push-buttons and wireless Ethernet communication adapters that are available according to regional regulatory compliance.

Lee Cheung • Mitsubishi Electric Automation, Inc.: We see wireless connectivity being adopted in particular with the use of GOT Mobile functionality on advanced GOT2000 HMIs. This lets maintenance engineers remotely monitor machine status and gives them the flexibility to move around a machine while checking documentation when


HOW THESE TOOLS ARE CHANGING HOW DESIGN ENGINEERING IS DONE. Lee Cheung • Mitsubishi Electric Automation, Inc.: Selection tools that we provide for controller products help streamline the process for creating a bill of materials. These tools check to make sure that the system configuration is valid and even take out the tedious work of calculating power requirements. Mike Chen • Omron Automation Americas: Omron has recently opened up its internal cloud-based Bill Of Material (BOM) generation tool to our customers, abbreviated ONSeT – Omron Navigated Selection Tool. This tool lets design engineers peruse and select Omron products by feature and application needs, identify optional or required accessories, and then add-in their non-Omron line items for a single point proposal generator.


WE HAVE AN ANSWER FOR THAT. From synchronous belts and banded V-belts to specialty belts and sprockets for variable transmission, we have the right solution for whatever power transmission issue you have. Visit

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Conveyor and material-handling trends

Shown here is a timing belt conveyor from mk North America with welded attachments for indexing and positioning.


onveyors are at the heart of an array of exciting changes in material handling — from the vast installations of automated warehousing to humbler stations only recently automated. Each conveyor installation has unique design requirements: Food and beverage conveyors might need to survive washdown settings; conveyors in airspace and defense operations may need to be explosion-proof; and conveyors automotive manufacturing facilities may necessitate conveyors with very high load ratings. Recently, two industry experts gave us their input on what’s new in these and other designs … and trending features of the conveyors themselves. One enduring trend includes the move towards flexible conveyor systems — fully assembled and tested solutions that go beyond the functions of traditional belt conveyors.



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Tom Schaffner | Sales and business development manager • mk North America: Customers are looking for flexible automation today; but this was not the case five years ago. Nowadays (with product lifecycles being as short as they are) flexible automation is a necessity. These trends are seen more often in applications that require a conveyor-solution … beyond standard belt conveyors. Stacy Johnson • Dorner: It’s important to recognize how conveyor design is being affected by the continuing trend of flexible assembly lines. When customer demands change and product cycles end, assembly lines must be flexible to accommodate different applications. Supporting conveyor systems need to be just as flexible. |

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CONVEYORS Manufacturers of Power Transmission and Motion Control Components

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In some cases, high-tech distributors and integrators execute some or most of the work related to customization and installation. These teams sometimes assume the execution of controldesign work for setups having coordinated motion tasks as well. This is increasingly common where SCARAs and other robotic arms service a conveyor. Stacy Johnson • Dorner: The role of conveyors within automation and robotic systems continues to expand. Robotic movements are precise and exact, and conveyors working with robotics need to operate to that same level of accuracy. Robotic applications often require product to be in an exact location, in the exact position, and at the exact time on the conveyor. But to do that successfully requires a conveyor system that’s efficient, reliable, and engineered to work in conjunction with robotics. Not every conveyor can do that. But our servomotor-driven Precision Move conveyors can … delivering accurate alignment of time and distance that provides indexing repeatability of ±0.040 in. all at a rate of 100 indexes per minute. It’s important to select a conveyor supplier with knowledge, application insight, and the proven expertise in working with robotics.

Note the distinction between pallet (pallet-system) conveyors and large conveyors for the transport of pallets (moveable adaptations of skid platforms) bearing product. The former is associated with precision placement of discrete workpieces or products … and even onconveyor processes in some cases. The latter — as in this example from RIA-certified robot integrator Honeywell Intelligrated — are associated with heavyload material handling for the transport of crates or other collections of discrete product — usually in warehousing or distribution settings.

Custom Synchronous Drives

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© 2017 Custom Machine & Tool Co., Inc.

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better products. better solutions.

Standard and Custom Conveyor Solutions

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This is a 2200 Series Precision Move pallet system from Dorner Mfg.

Pallet conveyors — not to be confused with heavy-duty pallet-handling conveyors in this context — are those that include trains of discrete carrier trays or platforms (pallets) to transport individual products or workpieces. Key benefits of pallet conveyors include the ability to space (buffer), route, and position products as operations around and sometimes on the conveyor demand it. In some cases, the pallets include RFID tags to allow automation controls and IoT logistics systems to track their locations and the current state of the product or workpieces they’re carrying. In addition, these pallet conveyors are usually reconfigurable to let plant managers use them for changing production lines.


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Stacy Johnson • Dorner: Pallet system conveyors have become a popular choice for many automation-focused applications that require exact movements and positioning of parts, as they can be setup or programmed to start and stop at specific intervals to sync up with robotic interaction or other processes. These types of conveyors dominate in automotive component manufacturing as well as other industries — including the production of medical devices, electrical components, and electronics as well as product testing and inspection that necessitate automated and manual assembly or handling of products. Pallet system conveyors are available in multiple styles … including dual-belt configurations powered by common drives and flexible plastic-chain belt designs. Our innovative lifting modules can be used to interface with robots, rotate product

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This Flex E Pack system from Wexxar Bel (in partnership with Matrix Packaging Machinery) is a conveyor-based end-of-line packing station to help automate processes associated with forming packing, and sealing containers. It’s one example of the growing trend to reduce labor and increase throughput of flexible packages.

90° or 180° or change product orientation. Plant end users also employ pallet system conveyors for their accuracy. These operations need their product at an exact location … and the conveyors’ lift-andlocation stations deliver repeatability of 0.002 in. Pallet systems are available in a variety of layouts to accommodate tight turns, heavyload applications; and vertical transfer units. Schaffner • mk North America: Conveyors and their accessories — in particular pallets that carry product — must be flexible. The VersaMove pallet-handling conveyor line from mk North America is suitable for applications where change is expected. Pallets can easily reconfigure with new tooling to accept different parts. Stops, accessories, and even whole conveyors can be added to the line as the functionality of the line changes. In today’s conveyor marketplace, it’s a requirement to offer flexible conveyors that can easily be reconfigured on a moment’s notice.



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Stacy Johnson • Dorner: Modular conveyors are mobile and provide the flexibility to be moved to different production lines. When this occurs, the conveyor’s guiding, transfers, and other accessories may need adjustment. Well-designed platforms allow this to happen. One such platform that brings flexibility to the forefront is retractable tail conveyors. This platform allows one end of the conveyor to shorten or lengthen, depending on where the plant operator wants the product. Some common uses for retracting tail conveyors include: • • •

Evenly distributing product across another conveyor Changing product orientation Rejecting product for weight, foreign material, or other quality issues |

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Control Techniques’ latest generation of servo solutions... Perfect for dynamic applications where high peak torque is required. Digitax HD packs a real punch from a tiny package; just over 1.5” wide. Minimum size, maximum performance. Helping you reduce your costs and maximize your space. A specialist drive, from Control Techniques the drive specialists.

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Custom solutions

lead coupling trends in 2019


ith application environments increasing in complexity year over year, standard couplings are often solving only part of the problem. Coupling industry leaders are reporting an increase in customer requests for custom solutions; Engineers want their coupling performance fine-tuned for precisely the task at hand. INCREASED MISALIGNMENT CAPACITY When connected motion components in a composite fiber processing system needed extra parallel misalignment capacity to prevent premature bearing failure and oil leakage, Zero-Max created a custom, shortened Double Flex CD Coupling. In this application, the original machine design called for a single flex, steel disc coupling to connect the system motor to a gearbox. When operating, the steel disc coupling did not allow enough parallel misalignment to protect the connected components from excess stress and wear. Component failure resulted, causing system downtime with excess cost and time for restart of the equipment. Zero-Max engineers proposed a shortened version of its Model 6P60C CD coupling. Designed with a composite disc center member, this coupling handles the misalignment, minimizing reaction loads in a confined operating space much better than the previously used steel disc coupling.

With a peak torque value of 12,700 in-lbs, the CD Coupling is torsionally stiff and able to operate at speeds up to 4,400 rpm. The custom CD Coupling ensures low reaction loads on the system’s shaft bearings.

With a peak torque value of 12,700 in-lbs, the CD Coupling is torsionally stiff and able to operate at speeds up to 4,400 rpm, far above the system’s upper-performance requirements. The custom CD Coupling ensures low reaction loads on the system’s shaft bearings. This custom CD Coupling has up to 3° angular misalignment with 0.069 (1.8mm) parallel and 0.260 (6.6mm) axial misalignment also allowed. The coupling has aluminum hubs with little inertia. The coupling was installed by removing the failed coupling and connecting the newly modified CD Coupling’s clamp- style hubs in the system’s powertrain, This Ameridrives custom 11-in. without having to redesign or relocate any machine diameter gear coupling has a components. peak torque rating of 397,225 The engineering disciplines Zero-Max applies to in.lbs. (44,880 Nm). its custom coupling applications include metallurgy and alloy material design, composite disc formation,



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CUSTOM FLEXIBLE GEAR COUPLINGS A global manufacturer of oil and gas drilling equipment needed a coupling solution for its 1,000-ton top drive. The 2,000 HP drive used two AC motors suspended from the rig’s mast to rotate the drill string of pipe sections into the well hole. These pipe strings can reach lengths of more than two miles. As the long pipe string drills down deeper into the sea floor, the top drive is repeatedly lifted to insert 2-3 additional 25-32 ft. long pipe sections at a time. The process is reversed when it’s time to remove the pipe string from the drill hole. The top drive couplings are used to connect the drive motors and gearbox to the drill string. Ameridrives supplied a custom 11-in. diameter gear coupling with a peak torque rating of 397,225 in.lbs. (44,880 Nm). Amerigear fully-crowned gear teeth provided operational benefits including maximum load carrying capacity with minimum size and reliability. Optimum separation of gear meshes also permited high parallel offset capacity. Units feature accurately machined medium carbon steel hubs and sleeves. Positive-type O-ring seals keep lubricant in and contaminants out.


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disc deflection control, precision fastening of components, and dynamic coupling balancing. These engineering disciplines require precise control of the coupling body, stiffness properties of the composite disc, and overall weight of the coupling assembly. Other custom designs from Zero-Max include couplings handling high power in a small space, blind fit couplings, large-scale floating shaft couplings, high misalignment, and high torque couplings, high-speed couplings, and high precision couplings.



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Drive manufacturers

deliver on customization


rive manufacturers are updating their products to satisfy the changing needs of designer demands. This includes more powerful drives with added functions, better efficiency and better connectivity, among other features. An on-going trend across industries is that manufacturers are seeing more of a demand for custom products to suit highly specific customer needs and applications. For some drive manufacturers, this takes the shape of working closely with their customers on their designs. In fact, companies like ABM Drives base much of their business on working closely with customers to develop custom products. As Gabriel Venzin, President of ABM Drives notes, most of their products are engineered in close cooperation with their customers.



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INVEOR MP series drive controllers from ABM Drives can be combined with the company’s motors and gearboxes to simplify setup in a range of applications including warehouse logistic systems. |

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Less means more!

Focused on the essentials: the new i500 Slim design, scalable functionality, and extremely user-friendly. The groundbreaking i500 is size-optimized and allows for zeroclearance mounting, saving valuable cabinet space. And thanks to the innovative interface options, it’s easy to commission in minimal time. The best thing of all is that the modular structure adapts to different production configurations in no time at all. Less does mean more! Learn more at Visit us at PROMAT 2019 – Booth #S2422 | April 8-11 | Chicago, IL

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Engineers at Lenze see much the same thing and offer a host of specialized services to aide customers. “Lenze offers full application engineering services which include programming assistance, hardware selection, product demonstration, inhouse testing and onsite commissioning,” says Kevin Corcoran, Application Engineer with Lenze Americas. “In addition, field service or after sales technical support are available and there is also 24-hour emergency phone support for customers with critical machine stoppages outside of business hours” adds Corcoran. Another theme is interoperability. More often than not a design sources components from multiple vendors or even sports legacy and newer components from the same vendor, and so the need for all these pieces to work together is critical. So because multiple vendors are involved in a single project, interoperability becomes more important. According to Venzin from ABM Drives, the company “always designs products that can be combined resulting in different end products – various gearboxes can be equipped with an ac induction motor or Sinochron PMAC motors and motor mounted or cabinet installed inverters or no inverter if the customers wished to do so.” The same is true for Lenze. The company “takes several measures to allow for interconnection between our products”, says Corcoran. “The EASY Engineering Tool suite is used to promote simple access to products both legacy and current. Many of our products share similar fieldbuses that allow them to integrate easily into a Lenze PLC or even a 3rd party fieldbus structure.” What else is driving business for drive manufacturers? For one, both expanding as well as entirely new applications. For instance, ABM Drives reports that they’ve seen more interest for their products across a broad swatch of applications and industries. AGVs (automated guided vehicles) are one area to consider. AGVs and other battery-powered equipment demands increased partly due to labor shortages and include more and more flexible assembly platforms instead of fixed assembly lines. Some vehicles are being converted to electric due to noise concerns allowing operation during night time or weekends or close in noise-sensitive buildings such as hospitals and nursing homes. Also, applications in automated warehousing (so-called AS/ RS systems) are seeing more demand for integrated systems that incorporate Industry 4.0 functions and combine conventional conveyor systems with AGVs. Some other applications like allterrain vehicles (ATVs) and utility task vehicles (UTVs) have a need for drives, but limited battery life and associated cost still holds back quick expansion in these areas.



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As for the future of engineering education and internship or training programs, ABM Drives is actively involved in bringing about the next generation of engineers and tech workers. As a German company ABM has always employed apprentices for functions such as mechatronics and machining. They also provide opportunities for internships for technology students from university programs. In the end, the company strongly believes that training of young professionals for all key functions is a must for long term survival and success of the company. |

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IoT, programmability top encoder trends W

hat key trends are driving the encoder market? We put the question to several of the top encoder manufacturers to get their perspective on trends in the encoder industry as well as how developments in other industries are impacting their business. Here’s what they told us.

HEIDENHAIN’s new LC 201 absolute linear scale is a single-section METALLUR tape encoder suited for use in linear motor applications that may be required to reach high acceleration levels within the linear drive systems. They are well suited in the machine tool and aerospace machining sectors, but will also work in applications for electronics, automation, medical technology and metrology industries.

WITH RESPECT TO THE IOT AND IIOT, WHAT KINDS OF CAPABILITIES DO YOUR COMPONENTS OR ENGINEERED DESIGNS INCORPORATE TO SUPPORT FUNCTIONS RELATED TO FOG COMPUTING ON LOCAL NETWORKS? Jonathan Dougherty | Product Specialist • HEIDENHAIN: With the emergence of IoT in the industrial world, more companies are looking to receive more information from encoders than just the position. Things like environmental information, diagnostic data, and time in motion analysis can all provide customers with valuable information that they were not able to access before. For HEIDENHAIN, our main step into this world has been through our Leine & Linde brand encoders. With these devices, we have integrated a full-service Advanced Diagnostic System (ADS) which provides diagnostic and condition monitoring information back to the control through Ethernet communication. With this information, users are able to view and analyze the aspects of the encoder that affect its performance. They also have the ability to more accurately predict a potential encoder failure, which allows them to practice more proactive maintenance procedures to avoid unnecessary downtime. DESCRIBE WHAT YOU’RE SEEING IN TIME-SENSITIVE NETWORKING (TSN) AND ITS APPLICATION IN MOTION APPLICATIONS. Jonathan Dougherty • HEIDENHAIN Ethernet has established itself in industrial automation technology, and is widely accepted. However, there is one area of applications where standard Ethernet has not been able to gain inroads; network communication with real-time requirements.



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TSN tries to respond to this by providing clocked endto-end transmission with real-time requirements , while scheduling and traffic-shaping to make a shared transmission of communication streams with different priority levels possible in “real-time”. However, from a competent level, the big question is “What does real-time mean?” Currently the use of TSN instead of fieldbus has been tested to 1 msec cycle time at 100 nsec jitter, which is perfectly acceptable for diagnostic information but not quite enough for dynamic information used in position and speed loops.  However, there are organizations and company partnerships that are looking to increase the viability of TSN (possibly partnered with OPC UA) for component level communication. This is something certainly to monitor and take part in to see what the future holds for TSN on the component level. HOW DOES YOUR COMPANY ENSURE INTEROPERABILITY BETWEEN ITS OFFERINGS AND PRODUCT FAMILIES? Christian Fell • POSITAL FRABA An important link in the interoperability chain is the choice of communications protocols. Our company provides support for numerous communications interfaces, including the PROFIBUS and CANopen family of fieldbus protocols (including CAN-based protocols like DeviceNET and SAE J1939). For large factory systems, we offer industrial Ethernet communications such as EtherNet/IP, EtherCAT and PROFINET, all of which are suitable for real-time controls. For servomotors or feedback-controlled stepper motors, we are enthusiastic about the SSI and BiSS communications systems. |

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ENCODERS These are open-source protocols with no licensing fees. BiSS protocols are highly functional and support several wiring configurations, including 2 and 4-wire single-cable setups. Jonathan Dougherty • HEIDENHAIN For HEIDENHAIN, we have the benefit of supporting a multitude of available brands in our markets. Brands like ETEL, RSF, Acu-Rite, Leine & Linde, Renco, LTN, Numeric Jena, and more are all under the HEIDENHAIN umbrella. Each product offering has it’s unique position and specialty in the market and we take care to focus each brand on what aspects of technology in which they excel, but each brand also benefits from the added R&D capabilities provided by being part of the larger HEIDENHAIN group. This provides a balanced symbiotic relationship where each brand can excel at their area of focus and distinguish themselves while also having the backing of a solid foundation in HEIDENHAIN. CAN YOU DESCRIBE FOR US THE TRENDS YOU SEE OR A RECENT PROJECT YOUR COMPANY SUPPORTED IN SOME SPECIFIC INDUSTRY OR APPLICATION? Christian Fell • POSITAL FRABA The trend we see in AGVs, collaborative robots and other robots is a need for low-cost, high-quality position and motion feedback. We are focusing our energies on making sure that our position and motion sensor products can deliver the accuracy, reliability and durability that the industry needs, while keeping cost down, both in terms of component price and the cost of installing components in new or existing designs. Our new absolute kit

(modular) encoders are designed to be straightforward to install in servomotors, feedback-controlled stepper motors and robotic joints, while delivering significant performance advantages over traditional resolvers or incremental encoders. Control and safety assurance systems for construction, off-road and military equipment have become much more sophisticated in the past decade. An important development for us in this space is our new dynamic inclinometer. Inclinometers (tilt sensors) provide feedback on the position of components such as excavator booms and crane jibs. They are also used for tip-over prevention systems for vehicles, lifting platforms and other mobile machines. These devices typically make use of MEMS (Micro Electro-Mechanical Systems) accelerometer modules that detect the effect of gravity on the position of a tiny mass suspended in an elastic support structure. However, accelerations caused by equipment motion can also make the mass move relative to its supports, introducing measurement errors. POSITAL’s engineers have eliminated this problem by adding a set of 3D MEMS gyroscopes to the inclinometers. A smart algorithm combines signals from the gyroscopes and the accelerometer modules to compensate for the effects of acceleration, with the result that the new

dynamic TILTIX inclinometers can be used reliably wherever sudden movements, shocks or vibrations are likely to be encountered. In defense industries we see manufacturers paying more attention to COTS (commercial, off-the-shelf) products that can be adapted to military service. Products such as our heavy-duty sensors that have a solid track record in challenging off-road and off-shore environments are good candidates for these applications. Mass customization has also been a key component in our company’s product strategy for over a decade. Our sensors are used in applications ranging from precision manufacturing machinery to rugged construction equipment. To meet this wide range of requirements, we have developed a data-centered industrial process that gives us the ability to build the customer exactly what they need, quickly and efficiently, while keeping costs at the mass production level. Products are assembled on an as-ordered basis from a set of largely interchangeable components and subassemblies. Once a device has been assembled, it’s calibrated and subjected to a full set of QA tests. Assembly records and test results are stored in the production database so that each device’s history is entirely traceable.

These programmable analog encoders from Posital Fraba can be customized to meet specific application requirements. Programming can be carried out at the factory, in a distributor’s warehouse or at the customer’s job site via the company’s UBIFAST programming tool. |

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MOTION SYSTEM TRENDS Our product range can be accessed through our online Product Finder tool. Potential customers can specify the performance characteristics, mechanical features and communications options they are looking for, then receive information on products that meet these requirements, including datasheets, CAD drawings and manuals. Once a device has been selected and ordered, delivery can usually be accomplished in less than a week. Jonathan Dougherty • HEIDENHAIN Specifically in the service robotics world, we have seen an increased demand for low-cost absolute feedback for inclusion in robotic joint rotary axes. For these products, we have seen great success with our inductive sensing solutions which provide high quality position information in a low height and compact form factor, which suit the needs of the OEMs in this industry. On the industrial robotics side, we’ve seen an increased demand for highly accurate machining operations on very large components, specifically in the aerospace and automotive markets. For these applications, we’ve designed solutions to use secondary feedback devices to enable a level of accuracy at the tool center point that was not previously possible.

TELL US ABOUT ANY SELECTOR, SIZING, OR SALES SOFTWARE YOU USE OR OFFER TO CUSTOMERS AND HOW THESE TOOLS ARE CHANGING HOW DESIGN ENGINEERING IS DONE. Jonathan Dougherty • HEIDENHAIN Our most popular selector tool is through our Leine & Linde brand and can be found online here: https://www.leinelinde. com/products/productfinder/. This tool provides enormous value to engineers looking for a product and allows them to specify exactly the type of encoder they’re looking for with an easy to use interface that guides them through the process and provides options for various sizes, interfaces, electrical connections, and more. However, we also are looking to expand our selector software to include application questions, to better provide feedback on what encoders will fit to a specific industry's needs based on our experience in the market. Be on the lookout for this feature soon to be released on our website:

NEW Network-Capable Absolute Encoder from EPC For EtherCAT communication in a precision absolute encoder, we’ve got your solution. EPC’s Model A58 features networking capability and is EtherCAT ready. With its minimal setup, you can install these encoders quickly and easily. The Model A58 offers: • 58 mm packages • Shaft or Hollow Bore construction • Variety of mounting options • Flexible, low-cost, and network-compatible industrial Ethernet solution • Maintains position information even in power-off scenarios • Up to 16 bits single turn resolution • Up to 43 bits multi-turn resolution

Call EPC today to learn how an EtherCAT

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Focus on customization tops gearmotor design trends


ider industry trends towards more customized offerings from component manufacturers are also driving gearmotor designs. Manufacturers are offering designers more customized solutions via more inhouse engineering resources, simplifying the design process. More custom solutions also mean greater integration with other components in a design, better connectivity and fewer compatibility issues. For example, Gabriel Venzin, President of ABM Drives, shares how his company provides valueadded services such as in-house engineering support to their customers. “ABM’s base business model is based on joint development of end-products with customer engineering input,” notes Venzin. “The products on most of our projects are being engineered in close cooperation with and input from the customer’s technical departments.” Joint cooperation is the norm especially for components designed for specific, unique applications. One area where manufacturers are seeing increased demand is in automated guided vehicles (AGVs). A major trend in transportation has been in the direction of electric vehicles and here gearmotors excel. Some of the most common uses are in automated warehousing applications such as automated storage and retrieval (AS/RS) systems. However, gearmotors can also be used in other vehicle applications such as in forklifts, lifting technology, construction equipment, and packaging machinery, to name a few. A typical requirement for gearmotors used in AGVs is that their size should be as compact as possible because of space limitations. And because AGVs are battery powered, the gearmotor power consumption needs to be minimized. One way to do this is to pair low-voltage dc motors with high-efficiency gearboxes. As dc motors have higher peak torque for a given size they can be smaller and lighter than other motor options. For instance, brushless dc gearmotors from Brother are being used in AGV applications. There are a range of options depending on the specific requirements, including the motor type and housing, but also differing motor voltages including 12, 24, and 48 V.



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Brushless dc gearmotors from Brother Gearmotor are offered with inline and right-angle shafts as well as hollow-shaft configurations with gear ratios from 5:1 to 240:1. |

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WE’RE MORE THAN 4 We invented the DualVee® guide wheel over 40 years ago in carbon steel and in only four sizes as a problem solver for harsh, debris-laden environments.

It’s 2019. Now we have UtiliTrak® linear guides. They are constructed with DualVee Motion Technology® in vee and vee/crown designs, and using MadeWell® Crown Rollers, and are perfect for commercial applications in need of a compact, easy-to-install, and low maintenance solution. We also have hand brake kits, carbon steel and T-slot Extruded bridge kits, curvilinear and rotary solutions, out-of-box and custom actuators, and complete custom solutions.


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Linear motion trends

with robotics and mobile designs leading charge


emand for simple-to-install and pre-integrated linear-slide systems continues unabated … especially in applications only recently automated. Here’s the perspective of Matt Mowry, North American market manager for drylin products at igus: “We’ve supplied fully assembled and customized linear-slide tables … complete with motors and accessories. We’ve also supplied custom-extruded linear profiles and bearing liners to simplify assembly and optimize designs for OEM customers. We’re seeing a rising trend of applying lower-cost components and assemblies in new automation and robotics markets — and smaller companies broadening these markets. End users also want lightweight motion systems that don’t require maintenance and are quieter that traditional offerings. On the topic of linear slides, OEMs today need less expensive ways to integrate slides into their designs for automation and robotics. With our linear plain bearings, low cost and weight (and no need for maintenance) are major selling points. In fact, we’ve noticed a huge uptick in the acceptance of engineered plastics and their use as a base material (versus rolling-element bearings) over the past 5 to 10 years.” Material science is evolving the design of linear slides and guides in other areas. Advancements in raw materials used in linear guides (including steels, aluminum alloys, elastomers, polymers, and ceramics) continue. In some cases, that’s prompted new offerings with work surfaces that aren’t ground. Instead, zone hardening on work surfaces means manufacturers use inductive processes instead of having to bake whole parts in ovens. Proprietary aluminum extrusions help keep linear-actuator races flatter straighter than standard extrusions. That translates into far easier installation than in the past — enabling new linear guide and slide applications.

Bishop-Wisecarver UtiliTrak linear-motion systems don’t require precise parallelism for accurate operation … and are forgiving of mounting errors and mounting surfaces that are slightly out of parallel. A DualVee guide-wheel assembly (and vee channel) serves as the captive motion side; a MadeWell crowned-roller assembly (and open channel) is on the other. Shown here is such a system with closeups of the MadeWell crown-rollers side. These rollers have curved running surfaces for smooth linear guidance … riding in precision-ground channels while accommodating up to 7° of misalignment and eliminating binding issues that can otherwise occur with parallel-mounted guide tracks. |

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Dave Humblet | Senior application engineer • PBC Linear: Designs that employ linear slides and guides are expanding. For example, new blimp-tender extension systems, scissor lifts for aircraft maintenance, and training trailers and campers put PBC Hevi-Rail to use. Again, good load ratings and robust design are essential. The storage industry also makes use of our rugged linear bearings in mobile-storage lift systems — in what are called horizontal cranes — to bring large storage boxes onto flatbed trucks for relocation. Here, very high loads necessitate rugged linear-motion components (with load ratings) as well as a better stud design on the bearings. Still another application is that of enclosed high-pressure washers. Here, our linear-rail system of components delivers compactness (with a high load rating for the size); reliability even in the challenging wet environment; and the ability to roll in and out of a support — with significant load on the unsupported (cantilevered) linear rail when the latter is in an extended position. One last rugged linear-bearing application is that on a blueberry-picking machine. Here, linear bearings provide the OEM with a compact solution for the linear movement of the harvester’s height adjustment and rear unload platform. This has been invaluable in decreasing weight and space requirements.

Shown here is a truck-bed extension system with rollers that have the ability to roll into and out of the rail channels. The Hevi-Rail linear bearings in this application also come with a high load rating to give the end user top reliability and ruggedness. | Image courtesy PBC Linear

Dominick Doyle • PBC Linear: By combining traditional ballbearing footprint with cam-roller technology, Lee Linear has helped solve some challenging design constraints. The marriage of these two technologies allows for running in higher temperature, longer runs, and dirty or dusty environments. Shown here is a cutaway of a PBC Linear Hevi-Rail HVBEA-456 roller.

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MOTION SYSTEM TRENDS Traditional profile rail technology is extremely rigid with high precision. As part of this technology there are also very time consuming and expensive installation requirements. Certainly, every customer in industrial automation doesn’t need the precision and associated expense of this. Other recent applications illustrate the trends towards more OEMs incorporating accessibility and serviceability in their designs — often with linear-motion actuators. Humblet | PBC Linear: In one instance, linear actuators provide cab movement on a trenching machine to give operators good visibility. More specifically, the design uses our CCR16 linear shafting and FLN16 standard linear bearing in a customer housing. Advantages here include availability; good load ratings; and robust design. Doyle • PBC Linear: Integral-V technology usually installs in about a half hour and doesn’t make installers control parallel rails’ precision. That’s because the rails are essentially the surfaces on one solid extrusion. The carriage interfaces with the extrusion’s two edges; installation is a matter of drilling and tapping machine plates and fastening these rail sections to the plate. Hardenedsteel V raceways embedded into the anodized aluminum rails make for a design capable of speeds to 10 m/sec … standard lengths are to 3,650 mm, and longer continuous length or joinable rails upon request. Past years of the Design World Trends survey tracked technology improvements for packaging and medical devices, along with emphasis on flexible machine designs. These are machine builds constructed to execute multiple jobs depending on the programming running. That’s still a trend to some extent … though more sources this year cited interoperability of components — including linear slides and guides. Mowry • igus: The simplest motion designs employ linearmotion actuation. As more things become automated, leadscrews are a key motion-control product … because OEMs are seeking lower-cost options and more choices for diameter and lead. The leadscrew part of igus’ drylin linear-product line is its fastest growing segment, especially its dryspin high-helix geometry. As with other motion components, interoperability of slide systems is a trend here … mostly in the form of mechanical interchangeability to let design engineers simplify linear assemblies. On a related note, as a German-based company we’ve always provided leadscrews based on DIN and ISO standards. Of course, OEMs that become familiar with one linear-motion system can employ it in a range of sizes. Some linear-slide suppliers sell rail that can accommodate carriages (runner blocks) of various precision grades. Other linear-slide manufacturers sell systems that let end users replace sections of rail if it sustains damage, for example.



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Axes on CNC machines to allow spindle movements are mission critical — requiring high accuracy. But doors and other linear axes have different design requirements — with forgiveness and ruggedness being priority instead. Now, linear bearings from Rollon Corp. help some CNC machine builders trim cost and improve reliability by satisfying these unique design requirements. CNC machines usually include large sheet-metal doors subject to exposure to metal chips and cutting fluids as well as deflection and misalignment. Here, recirculating-ball linear bearings (so commonly chosen for these doors’ slides) are a poor choice because they require careful mounting to precision surfaces and careful alignment that’s quickly voided by any deflection of the sheet metal doors; with little clearance between balls and raceways they’re also susceptible to damage through contamination by highly destructive metal chips. In contrast, self-aligning Rollon Compact Rail linear bearings include large rollers on nonidentical twin rail profiles — in some cases, employing Compact Rail U and K rail profiles. Here, the U-style rail has a flat raceway to let rollers translate in and out relative to the rail’s axial direction. K-style rail geometry allows slight angular rotation of the roller but maintains linear guidance. Together, the rails absorb parallelism errors on the horizontal plane and height differences between rails on the vertical — to 4 mm and ±50 mm respectively in installations with 2-m spans. Elimination of misalignment means no binding; that and a coefficient of friction of 0.003 to 0.006 makes for smooth opening and closing. Plus the linear bearings’ seals and wipers, acceptance of upside-down installation, permanently sealed ball bearings, and roller bodies large in relation to metal-chip size all make for rugged resistance to contamination. |

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IoT development drives sensor trends


he continuing development of IoT and IIoT is shaping trends in sensor design and implementation. Broader automation trends such as the continued digitalization of data and its use in more efficient control of processes and systems to the use of data for predictive maintenance purposes are big drivers. Sensors have added functions, are easier to program, and offer better connectivity, making them integral components in IIoT and edge and fog computing architectures. TE Connectivity is one company that has recently developed sensors that embody edge computing. “We have a new accelerometer currently in field trials in a number of applications and is designed specifically for machine condition monitoring in a smart factory environment,� notes Peter Smith, Manager of Sensor

Taking advantage of the increasing presence of wireless networks in industrial applications, the U5600 is a wireless pressure transducer from TE Connectivity. The transducer is housed in a stainless steel and polycarbonate body, eliminates the need for hard wiring and provides remote control and monitoring using Bluetooth 4.0.

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Well suited for machine condition monitoring, the Connected Industrial Sensor Solution (CISS) from Bosch is a small and robust multi-sensor device for harsh industrial environments. The built-in inertial and environmental sensors allow CISS to detect acceleration, vibration, rotation, as well as environmental conditions.

environment,” notes Peter Smith, Manager of Sensor Product Knowledge and Training at TE Connectivity. “This accelerometer has a broad frequency response, large dynamic range, and rugged packaging suitable for use on heavy factory equipment. In addition, the accelerometer features on-board FFT signal processing and analytics to evaluate the acoustic and vibration signatures of the machine to which it’s attached,” adds Smith. The company’s sensors are being used across a range of industries and uses. “IoT, IIoT, and IoMT applications use our sensors as the critical data collecting tool to monitor system operation and health,” notes Smith. Examples include vibration and temperature sensors for condition monitoring of factory machines, and force and pressure sensors in plastic injection molding equipment for part quality optimization. Another example would be the Bosch Connected Industrial Sensor Solution (CISS). Rodney Rusk, i4.0 Business Leader at Bosch Rexroth, notes that the CISS is a multi-sensor device detecting acceleration and vibration as well as environmental conditions. The robust housing and the small outline make it suitable for industrial retrofit applications such as condition monitoring and predictive maintenance. Configuring the device enables the customer to address a broad variety of DESIGN WORLD — MOTION


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use cases by interpreting the sensor data by smart algorithms. The sensor can sense eight possible inputs including acceleration, temperature, vibration and humidity. Time-sensitive networking (TSN) is another issue that arises for sensor manufacturers. Latency, or a time delay from when a sensor detects something until some action is taken, is a serious concern for smart factory applications. Systems that use cloud computing and analytics can take many seconds to react to some undesirable condition sensed at the edge. “Many TE Connectivity sensors are designed with the appropriate output capabilities that can instantaneously provide local signals to the equipment to control its operation and shut it down if a dangerous or destructive condition is detected,” notes Smith. “Today, some aggregation devices and gateways provide features that can control equipment locally to minimize TSN issues.”  Sensor manufacturers are also seeing interest in wireless sensors, particularly for smart factory applications. This interest is driven mainly by the cost saving that wireless sensors offer over hard wiring sensors to machines. More specifically, TE Connectivity’s Peter Smith notes that LPWAN is becoming prevalent for sensor modules as they allow for smaller size and longer battery life. “With factory and stationary systems, we expect to see continued growth in LoRa, Bluetooth Mesh, Zigbee, Thread, and 802.15.4 proprietary protocols,” notes Smith, adding that “it’s too early to demonstrate the value of 5G, but as this rolls out and delivers on the promise of real-time low-latency networks, we could see more shift to 5G.” Designers expect more support from their suppliers as well, in addition to things like custom designs that can range from simple alterations to highly complex designs. And sensor manufacturers are stepping up to the call. TE Connectivity, for example, supports Digilent, Arduino, Grove, PIC, and XplainedPro development tools. “These development boards are available through our distribution partners and we also offer software drivers in both C code and Linux formats that can be downloaded from our website,” notes Smith, adding that “a customer engineer can get a development board and software and have his applications up and running in 30 minutes.”



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Slow down to speed up

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Higher speeds,

output put greater demands on shock and vibration technologies

ACE Controls fitted its shock absorber technology with an IoT sensor to allow for simpler predictive maintenance.


he move to faster speeds, larger volumes and greater outputs in automated machinery is prompting more use of vibration and shock mitigation technologies. This has intensified innovations to shock absorbers, vibration dampers, air bearings and other devices, which run the gamut from faster response-designs to smart technologies. According to Brian Fink, Product Manager, Aerotech Inc., “Optimizing a motion system’s move-and-settle performance is key to improving throughput in high-volume, high-precision manufacturing applications. As the motion system aggressively accelerates and decelerates, the applied forces react against the machine base. This results in an oscillation that can last for hundreds of milliseconds or longer during which the processing must be delayed until the oscillation attenuates in order to maintain the required accuracy." 



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Fink described one of Aerotech’s mechanical options — its PlanarHDX, a two-axis, planar air-bearing stage, which features a reaction-mass design that significantly reduces forces imparted to the machine base, thereby enabling lighting-fast turnaround and move-and-settle times. Additionally, from a control systems standpoint, Aerotech offers an Enhanced Throughput Module (ETM), a mechatronic solution that measures the unwanted motion of the machine base and feeds it back into Aerotech’s motion controller, which then alters the commanded motor currents to effectively isolate the moving workpoint from the base motion. |

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“With these advanced vibrationmitigation technologies, Aerotech can transform your high-throughput process to be fast, accurate, and affordable,” Fink said. Greg Herman, Director of Sales & Business Development, ITT Enidine, said that as more customers look to get more output from their existing equipment, the operating speed of the equipment must increase, which in turn generates more energy in the system. This energy is damaging not only to the equipment, but also the product or process being produced. With more energy in the system, managing this energy becomes critical. “One such customer currently using our products had increased the cycle rate of their equipment (speed) by more than 40%. For a short time, the customer was happy with the production of the

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equipment. However, it became clear that the energy absorption product that was in the system was not adequate for the increased speed, force and energy generated by the equipment,” Herman said. “After reviewing the applications changes with us, we were able to size the appropriate product which has accomplished the goal of the customer – increased production.” Scott McNeil, Engineering Director, ACE Controls Inc., agreed that the trend to faster production continues. “That is the original driver of our business. The original reason for the first industrial shock absorber was that it allowed line speeds to increase, reduced damage and extended equipment life,” McNeil said. “An example of products that increase production are our high performance

PET shocks for the plastic bottle industry, which allow manufacturers to speed up production over the original equipment shocks.” ENABLING IoT FUNCTIONALITY In addition, ACE Controls recently launched a smart shock absorber to enhance accuracy and improve system output and speed. “Our smart shock absorbers will reduce downtime as they and the equipment they are installed in can be maintained using predictive/prescriptive maintenance procedures,” McNeil said. “We have recently demonstrated our IoT capabilities at the ATX Trade Show in Anaheim, Calif. this year, showing our smart shock absorber solution.” ACE’s IoT-enabled shock absorber

3/12/19 1:06 PM


uses an Intel NuC Edge computing device and wireless sensors for data acquisition. Edge computing enables optimization of the quantity of data sent to the cloud and also performs real-time monitoring in the field. It does this by collecting sensor data in the edge layer in the field and by processing and analyzing the data. This can avoid the concentration of processing operations in the cloud layer so that the IT resources in the cloud layer can be optimized and their availability improved. “We are currently using the Bluetooth 5.0 communication protocol with the capability to use other protocols such as LoRa, eSIM, etc. Our current system can process up to 200 sensor nodes for real time performance monitoring. Apart from performing a run time computation using the edge computer we also have the data stored in a secured cloud database for pattern analytics,” McNeil said. Rahul Chandrashekar, Software System Architect, ACE Controls Inc., added that the hardware ACE is using for its IoT capabilities uses an Intel core i7 with Ubuntu operating system.

“The system has a small footprint with a form factor of 100 x 100 mm and has the memory capacity of 32 GB. A small footprint on both the physical size and memory helps keep the cost of hardware economical,” Chandrashekar said. McNeil concluded by adding that using industry standard communication protocols like Bluetooth and LoRa is critical to the successful implementation of its technology. “We know that a company of our size has to match the market trend. We strive for plug-and-play as much as possible. We are also using industry standard sensors and such for the same reasons and to piggyback off the validation and use cases of the suppliers of these products. We also follow trends like a recent National Fluid Power Association (NFPA) survey regarding IoT where we felt we were very well aligned. “When working on new designs we try to maintain the relationship with our current products so we don’t create redundancy and overlap. We try to take the best of all that we have learned and incorporate it into new products,” McNeil said. THE FUTURE AND BEYOND Automation in agriculture will continue to offer huge growth for the use of shock and vibration damping technologies. For example, as cannabis grows in legal use across the nation, so too will faster ways to produce it. Chris Niemiec, Engineering Manager, ACE Controls Inc., said that cannabis operations already utilize ACE’s shock absorbers in their trimming machines today. “We expect more and more opportunities in this rapidly growing market. Additionally our products cater to all sorts of automation in the agricultural industry,” Niemiec said. “One example is automatic strawberry pickers that are designed to pick the strawberries at a high rate, yet not bruise them.” Additionally, based on ACE’s study of the technology trend toward wireless connectivity, the company is focusing on requirements such as how to connect the battery, how to operate low cost assets (sensors), outdoor and harsh environments, low cost communication, low cost infrastructure, low power technology, robust communication, mobility and scalability.


Standard Products Guide Download Guide and Technical Support at

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MADE IN U.S.A. 104

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Aerotech’s PlanarHDX two-axis, planar air-bearing stage features a reactionmass design that significantly reduces forces imparted to the machine base, thereby enabling lightening-fast turnaround and move-and-settle times. |

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“Trends for wireless communication choices could be based on trade-offs between autonomy and range of connectivity. Communication between end devices and gateways is spread out on different frequency channels and data rates. The selection of the data rate is a tradeoff between communication range and message duration,” said Chandrashekar. “Due to the spread spectrum technology, communications with different data rates do not interfere with each other and create a set of “virtual” channels increasing the capacity of the gateway. LoRaWAN data rates range from 0.3 to 50 kbps. To maximize both battery life of the end devices and overall network capacity, the LoRaWAN network server is managing the data rate and RF output for each end device individually by each end-device individually by means of an adaptive data rate (ADR) scheme.”



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Stages, Cartesian robots, and tables for complete motion designs N

ew trends in multi-axis motion designs abound. Consider the rise of metrology reports to accompany designs — which serve as “birth certificates” in the form of well-informed simulation models and Excel spreadsheets that quantify the accuracy and capabilities of pre-engineered builds. In some cases, such reports give OEMs and end users accurate data on how the stages and other motion designs will perform — and sometimes even how the design will respond to changes. As Matt Price, technical manager of micropositioning applications at Physik Instrumente (PI) explains, “As a provider of motion gantries, XY tables and sub-assemblies, we think there’s great value in preconfigured motion subsystems calibrated and tuned in the structures in which they are integrated and assembled. This is a critical part of motion control — and a core competency of our systems groups. With a complete (built and characterized) gantry or assembly, you can be assured of performance of the motion system as a whole and avoid many issues that can arise from not proper considering their combined performance.” Other trends that have continued unabated are the move to stages, Cartesian robots, and indexing tables (with turnkey operation for very specific applications) as well as the outsourcing by OEMs and plant engineers of table and stage design to high-tech distributors and motion suppliers. Following are additional details on these trends from several industry experts. Read more on this topic at



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One major trend is that of new processes for outsourcing the design of motion subassemblies. RJ Hardt | Business development manager • Aerotech: Outsourcing motion subassemblies has become a hot topic as markets become saturated and more competitive. Outsourcing lets companies put more effort into their core competencies while offloading parts of their offering to partners to add value. The process of outsourcing starts with a consultative supplier that works with you to determine your needs before proposing a solution. Afterwards, engineering and technical resources must be delivered, and then the vendor’s manufacturing resources need to be aligned with your market. In fact, we’ve deployed a directconsultative field sales staff that walks customers through welldefined design engineering and manufacturing processes to help them capture targeted market opportunities. William Land | Business development manager • Aerotech: We’ve always aimed to offer more value through higher levels of system integration. Case in point: By adding localized memory on certain mechanical offerings, we can store mechanical productspecific setup parameters and user settings on each device. This allows dynamic interoperability between electrical and mechanical component categories, because the mechanical products now carry with them the relevant information to successfully connect to and operate them. |

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designs with 3D models and execute similar tasks, but unless the company they work for has the machine shops and machine operators to actually make the parts, these engineers are looking at a long supply chain. If they go down this path, they have the responsibility of making the system work.

When a user plugs in a new controller and drive to a supported mechanical product, they are encouraged to download controller settings off of the mechanical product through prompting, ensuring that the combined solution functions appropriately. The original parameter data is installed at the factory and carried with the mechanical product. This is just one step on the path to having electrical and mechanical products dynamically and seamlessly recognize each other’s product type and configuration and then adjust their operating parameters accordingly. Richard Halstead | President • Empire Magnetics: My viewpoint may be biased due to the customer base we serve — including aerospace and military, JPL, NASA, and labs at major universities. With that caveat, we can see the following trends. 1. The most experienced baby-boomer engineers are retiring, and there aren’t enough trained people to replace them. Add to this the fact that the bulk of today’s newer engineers have great computer skills but not a lot of practical experience with mechanics. They can produce |

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The alternative is to subcontract the whole mechanical package so there is a party to be held responsible for the unit performance. 2.

We also see that China in particular has overbuilt production capacity. That means they offer prices that make it difficult to justify the use of alternatives. Management analysis easily determines that moving up the value chain is much better use of engineering resources … assuming that quality can be maintained working with a subcontracting source from Asia. This value-added gantry from Physik Instrumente (PI) integrates six-axis hexapod motion platforms for alignment and testing of silicon photonics components.

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| MMX Miniature linear stage image courtesy Dover Motion

Other motion suppliers that serve the semiconductor market help on machine builds that must operate in vacuum environments.


DINGS’ MOTION USA 335 Cochrane Circle Morgan Hill, CA 95037 408-612-4970

Hardt • Aerotech: We supply motion control equipment to many of the semiconductor industry’s leading process-management OEM machine builders. With these machines, there’s increasing need to characterize and measure incredibly small defects — because semiconductor node- manufacturing techniques are trending towards sub-10-nanometer feature sizes. We’ve enabled leading-edge optical inspection processes with sub-nanometer positioning stages. Electron-beam inspection is becoming necessary at these smaller node sizes. The challenge is that this process must occur in vacuum … so now we manufacture and sell ultrahigh-vacuum wafer-positioning stages to serve this application. In fact, the most involved customization is for designs to serve the consumer electronics and life-science industries. Often, these take the form of one-off machine builds with precision specifications. Price • Physik Instrumente (PI): On the hardware side, PI provides customized stage, stage assemblies, and motion systems to address specific application and system-integration requirements. This includes motion subassemblies with integrated structures and cable management systems configured for streamlined system integration. On the software side, we provide application-specific commercial and open-source software that can be used for complete system control … including key areas of expertise such as photonic-alignment systems, laser materials processing, and 3D printing. On the service side, we provide onsite installation, training, and service contracts. Yet another industry change is that towards more value-add services and in-house engineering support from motion-component suppliers for OEMs.


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Brian O’Connor | Director of product and market development • Aerotech: We’re known for customizing motion solutions to specific applications and customers. We realize that one size never fits all … and rarely fits most. Our customers are in all markets and business types (as OEMs, integrators, and end users) needing custom engineering and design as well as onsite metrology and proof-of-concept testing. Our applied-technologies engineers and control-system specialists routinely visit OEMs, integrators, and end users to help them get the most out of their motion subsystems. This includes onsite system setup and optimization … as well as custom software-algorithm development and implementation. Matt Mowry | North American market manager for Drylin products • igus: Mechanical designers want to focus on solving their end-user problems with their own technology — and would rather buy a customized or even standard product from motion suppliers that specialize in linear bearing systems. Sourcing this way makes shortens the design time … and in the end, it also reduces the costs compared to them designing and manufacturing components or subassemblies.

Software tools continue to change how design engineering is done — even for Cartesian robots, tables, and other integrated motion designs. New tools abound … for example, Bosch Rexroth’s EasyHandling digital catalog details predesigned Cartesian systems with features for foolproof installation. Price • Physik Instrumente (PI): We provide a product selector on our website to support selections based on key motion specifications — and allow for quick identification of best options from a broad portfolio of products. In addition, STEP files are available for most standard products. These two things are helping accelerate design engineering and the identification of best solutions with PI engineers. Brian Fink | Product manager • Aerotech: Aerotech offers system-sizing software to clients and prospective users. Our Motor Sizer helps our sales and applications engineering team effectively work with design engineers to select the most appropriate combination of mechanics and control electronics for the application.

Precision Automation Sub-Systems PI provides precision motion and automation sub-systems based on Air Bearings and/or Mechanical Bearings Standard and Custom Gantries EtherCat®-based State-of-the-Art Motion Controllers Cartesian Robots and Parallel Kinematics Hexapods Linear Motors, Voice Coil and/or Piezo Motor Drives



Mic Laser


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of Vie

10-axis touch panel test system based on a compact hexapod, linear motor stages, and a voice coil actuator

PIglide HS, 3-motor planar XY air bearing stage with yaw control Physik Instrumente 508-832-3456 (East) 949-679-9191 (West)

PI designs and manufactures precision motion systems at locations in the USA, Europe, and Asia. With over 40 years of experience developing standard and custom products based on piezoceramic and electromagnetic drives and more than 1,300 employees in 13 countries, PI can quickly provide a solution for your positioning and automation projects in industry and research.


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MOTION SYSTEM TRENDS New Aerotech automation hardware features an industrial (noise-immune) fiber-optic drive-to-drive communication network.

Through defining the desired motion profiles and computing the payload mass and inertia, the Motor Sizer utility automatically calculates the required force or torque, motor currents, and bus voltages to execute the prescribed trajectories — and it even estimates the final motor temperature. Such outputs facilitate the evaluation and comparison of alternate motion-system solutions, and lets users optimize their motion trajectories to maximize system throughput (within the limitations of the positioning mechanics and control electronics). Engineers can download the Motor Sizer utility for free at Patrick Wheeler | Product manager • Aerotech: We offer a variety of software tools that let users engineer complete machinecontrol schemes — including commanding motion … prior to ever connecting to a motor drive, motor, or I/O. Such simulation environments let users see the acceleration profiles of their motion commands. This information is exportable and can be post-processed to let engineers assess what type of motors will be needed to execute the required moves … for easier system specification.

Price • Physik Instrumente (PI): We develop and deliver factory-configuration files for stages and actuators with optimized parameter sets … to allow instant operation with PI and ACS control solutions. This work is done at the component level to guarantee immediate operation and completely defined and defined motion performance. In addition, our motion assemblies and custom systems include stages configured for the control solution under application-specific operating parameters. We collaborate with the customer and provide metrology reports to confirm the design. Our stages also include features for compatibility with industrial standards that make them readily compatible with PI and ACS controls (to be interfaced with such standards).

Interoperability for motion components is also a major trend. Wheeler • Aerotech: We ensure interoperability by supplying a single-controller solution that can control servomotors, galvanometer scan-head motors, hexapods, voice coils, and piezoelectric actuators. In other words, the same controller is used … no matter what time of mechanical device the system is controlling. This lets OEM and integration companies diversify product offerings without undue burden on internal training and development.



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Aerotech QFOCUS piezo positioners for microscopes offer travels to 450 µm and 0.15-nm resolution. |

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RUGGED...SMOOTH... FAST...ACCURATE PRO-LM Series Linear Motor Stages Aerotech’s PRO-LM series linear-motor stages offer a cost-effective, high-performance solution for positioning applications that require smooth, precise motion. A linear motion guide bearing system, high-performance brushless linear servomotor, protective hard cover and side seals make the PRO-LM series ideal for applications such as laser machining, medical component manufacturing, and other applications requiring high accuracy and extremely smooth motion in a production environment. With a wide variety of sizes and load capacities, there is a PRO-LM stage to match your needs and exceed your expectations. Contact Aerotech today to learn how a PRO-LM stage can improve your up-time and application throughput.

Visit or Call 412-963-7470 Since 1970, Aerotech has designed and manufactured the highest performance motion control, positioning tables/stages, and positioning systems for our customers in industry, government, science, and research institutions around the world. AF0219B-LPM

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ACE Controls..................................................................... 101 Aerotech............................................................................ 111 AllMotion............................................................................... 2 Altech Corp....................................................................Cover Altra Industrial Motion......................................................... 63 AMETEK Haydon Kerk Pittman........................................... 41 Applied Motion Products, Inc.............................................. 23 AutomationDirect.................................................................. 1 Bansbach Easylift............................................................... 103 Beckhoff Automation........................................................... 55 Bishop-Wisecarver............................................................... 92 Canfield Connector............................................................. 99 Carlyle Johnson................................................................... 66 CC Link Partner Association................................................ 54 CGI Motion.......................................................................... 42 Chieftek Precision................................................................ 49 CMT..................................................................................... 75 Continental................................................................ 69,71,73 Control Techniques.............................................................. 79 Del-tron............................................................................... 97 Delta Computer Systems..................................................... 72 Diequa................................................................................. 10 Dings Motion USA................................................... 30,52,108 Encoder Products Company................................................ 88 Festo.................................................................................... 31 Harmonic Drive.................................................................... 91 HEIDENHAIN CORPORATION............................................ 85 igus................................................................................. 53,61 IKO International................................................................. 15

Intech..................................................................................... 6 ITT Enidine........................................................................ 105 LAPP USA............................................................................ 59 Lee Spring Company........................................................... 35 Lenze Americas................................................................... 83 Lin Engineering.................................................................. BC Mach III Clutch Inc............................................................... 67 Master Bond.......................................................................... 5 maxon precision motor........................................................ 47 mk North America, Inc......................................................... 76 Moog................................................................................... 45 MW Industries - Helical......................................................... 3 NSK Precision...................................................................... 37 PBC Linear...................................................................... 32,33 Pepperl+Fuchs.................................................................... 98 PI (Physik Instrumente) LP.................................................. 109 POSITAL-FRABA Inc.............................................................. 8 Pyramid Incorporated.......................................................... 77 R+W America...................................................................... 81 Renishaw.............................................................................. 89 Rollon.................................................................................. 94 Schneider Electric IMS......................................................... 25 Smalley Steel Ring............................................................. IBC Sorbothane........................................................................ 104 THK America, Inc................................................................IFC Tolomatic............................................................................. 21 WON ST LLC....................................................................... 95 Zero-Max, Inc......................................................................... 7

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Profile for WTWH Media LLC

Motion System Trends March 2019