Industrial Motors / Industrial Robotics

Tools for motors and drives

Sheila Kennedy says high-tech selection, control, rewinds and energy monitoring are now available.

By Sheila Kennedy, contributing editor

Maintaining, upgrading, and integrating motors and drives are simplified with a growing variety of tools on the market. Whether you’re selecting, sizing or engineering motion control components or managing performance, energy efficiency and repairs, the task is getting faster and easier.

Simplified selection and design: Software that aids in sizing and selection decisions is a real time saver. One example is Kollmorgen’s ( Motioneering Application Engine 6.2.0. “Motioneering allows the user to model the system by choosing one of the many application-specific mechanisms, and it will recommend the best system solution that Kollmorgen has to offer by searching through its database of servo, stepper and linear actuator systems,” says Gene Matthews, product line manager.

A new software library and graphical configuration tool is available for the STM32 microcontroller family from STMicroelectronics ( The STM32 FOC PMSM SDK v3.0 motor-control firmware library is the first ST library to support dual-motor controls, such as those used in industrial automation, air conditioning units and robotic systems. Designing energy-efficient motor drives with ST’s MC Workbench v1.0.2 involves graphically assembling and configuring the firmware library rather than editing code.

Siemens recently updated its Sizer engineering software to support energy analysis of alternative motor/converter combinations. Sizer 3.4 calculates energy consumption and losses of anticipated load cycles and the influence of regenerative feedback. “Two drive solutions can be compared with regard to their energy efficiency, enabling the savings potential to be determined,” says Ralf Fahner, product manager. “The Sizer engineering software also provides a drive conversion program for the automatic generation of alternative drive variants to discover the energy savings.”

A new motor rewind system available for large AC motors from 7,000 to 14,000 V is designed to reduce downtime.

The Converting Toolbox from Siemens ( is an open source graphical programming environment that contains ready-to-use software functions for converting applications. “A wide range of applications and individual functions are included in the toolbox — everything from winding and tension control, all the way up to flying splice applications. Functions are pre-programmed and tested, leaving the user to parameterize the needed functionality instead of doing complex programming,” says Denis Morozov, converting industry business development manager.

High-performance control and monitoring: Rapid control prototyping for motors, drives and inverters is enabled with the NI cRIO-908x Multicore Compact RIO tool from National Instruments ( The system’s rugged architecture is suited to industrial control systems, mechatronics and robotics. Based on the Intel Core i7 processor, the reconfigurable embedded control and acquisition system has the highest processing power of any CompactRIO product.

In a benchmark test, one industrial customer who had been running on a 400-MHz CompactRIO saw an 11-fold improvement in the loop rate when running on a Multcore CompactRIO in turbo mode, says Ben Black, NI systems engineer. “We’ve been able to achieve high enough loop rates that we can actually run the control algorithm in real time and, at the same time, be able to play back data in slow motion and debug and see what’s happening inside of the control algorithm,” says Black.

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Large motor rewind: A new motor rewind system available for large AC motors from 7,000 to 14,000 V is designed to reduce downtime. GE Energy’s ( GEGARD 400 HV motor rewind system allows service to be performed at the plant instead of a repair shop. “The GEGARD 400 HV flexible coil system for high-voltage motors enables us to repair most high-voltage motors in place,” says Brian Anulies, marketing manager. “The rewind system also can be used for synchronous condensers. This on-site repair service can save our customers time and money and reduce the risk of loss or damage associated with rigging operations, as well as transportation activities.”

Built-in toolsets: Drives are becoming increasingly intelligent with built-in maintenance tools. ABB’s ( ACS850 industrial drive module, recently expanded to include a 230-VAC offering, contains maintenance and diagnostics assistants and an automatic energy optimizer. “The ACS850 has a program that allows the user to set up maintenance reminders for drive-related items, like when a drive cooling or cabinet fan change is required, as well as non-drive-related items, like when the motor bearings or a filter require maintenance,” says David B. Levine, product manager for ABB LV Drives. The module’s diagnostics assistant helps in isolating disturbance causes and restoring operation. Its energy saving calculator monitors energy usage and displays energy saved in kWh, USD or C02 units, while automatic on/off fan controls promote further energy and maintenance savings.

E-mail Contributing Editor Sheila Kennedy, managing director of Additive Communications, at