New Generation of Smart Drives

March 29, 2010

Baldor Electric Company launches a new generation of smart drives. Offering economic and space-saving solutions for many common single-axis automation requirements, the drives also feature an Ethernet interface compatible with the deterministic Ethernet-compatible motion control standard, Powerlink.
The new programming capability - Mint Lite - is now being fitted without charge on all of Baldor's MicroFlex e100 and MotiFlex e100 single- and three-phase drive ranges. These drives are available in a broad choice of power ratings up to 33.5 A - with higher ratings coming soon. The versatile drives may be used to control rotary and linear servo motors, linear motors, closed-loop vector motors, and in V/Hz control modes.

The embedded Mint Lite capability supports a range of basic motion programming requirements including performing relative and absolute moves, S-ramp profiles, jog and homing movements, changing target positions on the fly, registration moves, and reacting to real-time trigger events. The programming facility allows standalone drives to provide solutions for many common automation and machinery tasks such as cutting or feeding to length, indexing axes, simple pick and place motion, and machine adjustments such as changing guides or backstops to reconfigure machinery for new batches. Such capabilities are widely required in a large number of manufacturing and processing sectors including food and beverage, packaging, pharmaceutical, electrical and electronic equipment, printing, and wood/metalworking.

More flexible PLC interfacing is another notable application for the new drives.  Every drive manufacturer offers a defined process data exchange interface with PLCs, or a ‘drive profile’ utility.  The ability to program Baldor's drives means that the standard drive profile may be adapted, perhaps to simplify the communications process or perhaps to optimize drive behavior for a specific application. The drives' TCP/IP-compatible Ethernet interface also makes it simple to link into Ethernet factory networks for changing product recipes, reporting production metrics, etc.

All of Baldor's MicroFlex e100 and MotiFlex e100 drives come with built-in I/O as standard - including fast latch inputs for registration applications - plus CANopen manager capability to support distributed I/O expansion and HMI interfacing. MotiFlex e100 drives offer card slots for further local I/O expansion and fieldbus connectivity. The fieldbus modules extend connectivity options to external PLCs, supporting interfaces such as Ethernet/IP, Profinet-IO, Profibus and DeviceNet. This configuration versatility allows drives to be configured very cost effectively to provide single-box solutions for automation applications.

If used in a Powerlink system, the local intelligence adds versatile new system building capabilities. Critical events can be acted on directly, eliminating the impact of network and controller scan time latencies; the faster response of critical axes can be translated directly into higher throughput. Another fundamental difference a smart drive can make is by using the local intelligence to offload a centralized Powerlink network controller. For machine builders configuring systems with large numbers of motion axes, this can save hundreds of dollars as Baldor fits Mint Lite programming capability as standard.

Development and configuration tools for the drives are included in Baldor's development environment, Mint WorkBench, which is provided without charge to users.

The new smart drives complement Baldor's existing Powerlink network control possibilities: a traditional central controller available for varying numbers of motion axes - NextMove e100 - and a plug-in controller for drives called Mint Machine Module that can control either two or five axes. The plug-in control card provides access to the full capabilities of the rich Mint language, and is capable of being programmed to perform very sophisticated motion functions such as gearing and cams.