Motion control drives were once used for only a single purpose – to send current to a motor as determined by the motion controller. The drives of the past were more simplistic and had little to do with advanced functions such as condition monitoring, quality control, and planning. Older motors required other components to complete these tasks.
Motion control drives today are an integral part of the motor’s core functions, featuring onboard memory and processing power that allows them to detect bearing defects before a component fails, act as a master controller for a network of drives, or let an operator clear a jam before engaging lockout tag out.
Today’s drives are far more complex and only continue to advance in capabilities. A few key trends have emerged as motion control drives expand their capabilities.
Motion Control Drives Decrease in Size but Not Power
One of the most significant trends in motion control drives today is their decreasing size. This has mainly been motivated by the increase in mobile applications. From mobile robots to drones and recreational vehicles, motion control drives need to be compact and powerful to enable this type of mobility.
Typically, these battery-powered drives are designed to perform at high efficiencies, delivering strong levels of speed and torque with low voltage levels. A number of innovations, such as Phase-Advanced Technology to correct lag in torque, are enabling impressive RPMs in a small, battery-powered motor.
Other Trends in Motion Control Drives
While the decreasing size of motion control drives is certainly a major trend, there are other noticeable trends in the evolution of drives. Some of the most prominent trends include:
- Productivity: motion control drives today are built with a focus on improving operational effectiveness (OEE). The increasing number and variety of functions of drives is enhancing their ability to deliver productivity improvements.
- Uptime: smart drives can now predict when maintenance is required before a motor gets jammed or breaks down. This extends equipment lifetimes while maintaining high levels of uptime.
- Quality: smart motion control drives can monitor successful tasks in production and collect data on dwell times, velocities and other key metrics. Then, this data can be used to ensure future tasks are completed similarly to ensure the highest levels of quality.
Motion control drives have changed drastically since their early days of sending current to a motor. They can perform a wide range of complex functions today, contributing to higher and higher levels of productivity inside and outside of the factory setting.
To learn more about motion control dives, take a deeper dive in our technical feature article, “New Trends in Drives.”