Controller uses multi-axis Ethernet

Tom Shelley reports on an approach which should allow a single controller to be used for almost any application and save significantly on wiring costs

A new system based on Ethernet Powerlink and enhanced Mint comprises servo drives, a machine controller that can manage over 200 axes and a license-free software environment. At the heart of the new offering, which comes from Baldor, is their NextMove e100 panel mounting control platform. This can control Ethernet devices such as drives, encoders, I/O and gateways, up to 16 of which can be interpolated axes. It also has onboard analogue and digital I/O and a USB port for connection to PC hosts. The controller additionally includes support for three traditional analogue controlled servo axes and four stepper or open loop axes. A CANopen interface provides a low cost means to add local or remote I/O or other components. Programming is in enhanced Mint, the name standing for "Machine INTelligence", a language originally invented by Mark Crocker, now marketing director for Baldor UK, which he says was originally borrowed from his student experience of Basic in the UK on computers such as the Sinclair Spectrum and BBC Micro. For precision motion applications, the company supports the controller with MicroFlex e100 single axis servo drives, each of which has a dual port Ethernet hub interface to support daisy chain connection, plus a CANopen interface for I/O expansion. At launch, the range offers users a choice of drives capable or delivering continuous output currents of 3, 6 or 9A. The company estimates that use of Ethernet should save as much as 100 Euros per axis in wiring costs, along with the potential to save a further 1000 to 2000 Euros for systems with more than 6 to 8 axes. Baldor Europe Mark Crocker