Motors and electronic drives have gone thorough many evolutions in recent years, but these advances in networking, integration, intelligence, diagnostics and analysis have a common purpose — to improve end users' machines and applications. Five or six years ago, for example, electronic drives for industrial servo systems began to move out of their control cabinets to get closer to their motors, according to Reid Hunt, product manager for drives and controls at Kollmorgen.
"Especially on long or big machines with multiple cabinets and cables, it can save time and hardware and improve reliability to have an integrated motor and drive," Hunt explains. "However, while physically combining can make it hard to exhaust heat and maintain performance, integrating them with a hybrid cable can solve this problem. We just launched a decentralized servo system that links drive and motor with an eight-wire, 11-mm-diameter, composite cable that can be 0.5 to 5 m long, and lets us mount a drive close to its motor on the same machine chassis. A second, 11-mm cable lets drives be daisy-chained and run motion buses such as EtherCAT via power wiring."
Not surprisingly, these increasingly sophisticated ties between drives and motors are accompanied by leaps in intelligence as well.