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Baldor unveils complete Ethernet motion automation solution at MTEC

* motion machinery can now be all electronic, all Ethernet - signalling change in machine design

e100 Product RangeBirmingham, UK, February 14, 2007 --- Baldor is showing its new Ethernet-compatible 3-phase AC drive range for the first time in the UK at MTEC (stand C80, Machine Building sector). Compatible with both TCP/IP and the deterministic Ethernet standard, Ethernet Powerlink, the MotiFlex AC drives join single-phase drives, a machine controller and a development environment. Together, the Ethernet-compatible range provides machine builders with a single source of supply for all the key motion system elements.

"The release of the MotiFlex 3-phase AC drive range gives us a complete real-time Ethernet motion control solution - allowing machine builders to take advantage of Ethernet immediately,” says David Greensmith. "The technical benefits of a high speed machine network have been well publicised, but it’s the simple factors of system cost savings and product availability that are being overlooked.”

Greensmith continued: "Machine builders are definitely sold on the system building benefits of the architecture. For each drive node, I calculate that a single Ethernet CAT5e cable eliminates somewhere in the region of 40 to 50 cable stripping, soldering and assembly tasks, for example. Ethernet now accounts for the majority of our sales enquiries, and this product release opens the technology to almost all users."

From its first 18 months' experience with Ethernet motion, Baldor has proved the technology to be very attractive in small to medium multi-axis systems arena. The savings come mainly in the area of simpler engineering, and reduced control hardware, cabling and assembly. Even though the actual cost of the Ethernet elements is a few percent higher than traditional motion equipment, the overall savings can be significant.

The addition of 3 phase AC drives means that users can build all-Ethernet systems with the optimum choice of motor technology for each axis, from small to large loads. Rotary and linear versions of brushless servo, and AC vector motors are all software selectable, and these will be joined shortly by support for DC servos.

Many machine builders are trying to move to all-electronic architectures, to provide software-centric, highly-reconfigurable equipment. Baldor's new Ethernet technology is particularly beneficial for this, as its single machine controller can manage different system components such as I/O, absolute encoders, Ethernet PowerLink DS402 positioning drives, steppers and up to 16 interpolated axes. This means that machine builders can replace pneumatic actuators with stepper or servo motors for example - with no increase in controller hardware - eliminating the costs and issues associated with maintaining a secondary supply of clean compressed air. 

Applications can be implemented with the Ethernet Powerlink protocol. This provides a deterministic real-time performance that makes it suitable for handling the most demanding motion, as well as a means to link seamlessly with standard Ethernet networks. An alternative is the use of standard TCP/IP protocols, which can be suitable if the automation in question does not have any demanding time synchronization or multi-axis coordination considerations.

Free ActiveX tools provided as part of Baldor's development environment make it very easy for developers to create Windows based PC applications that can communicate with the real-time motion hardware via Ethernet, such as a man-machine interface, or remote monitoring software.

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