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04/11/2020 - 05/11/2020

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Drives family will match widest variety of motor control tasks

Drives family will match widest variety of motor control tasks Control Techniques has developed a new series of drives dedicated to manufacturing automation. Unidrive M offers seven function-focused drive models, each with an individual feature set to match specific application and connectivity requirements

At SPS Nuremburg in November 2012, Control Techniques will be launching Unidrive M, its groundbreaking new family of drives tailored to the needs of manufacturing automation customers. By taking the innovative step of designing its next generation of drives specifically for customers in the manufacturing sector, Control Techniques has been able to target customer needs more thoroughly than ever before.  The company's global market research, and engineering and design programmes have resulted in a family of seven drives, each with the highest levels of performance and functionality. Every drive has been carefully designed to meet the requirements of, and improve productivity in, a specific area of the manufacturing market.

Control Techniques' new top range product, the Unidrive M800, integrates a new breed of high performance MCi machine controller within the drive. The solution is designed to enhance machine throughput by providing comprehensive control across complete customer machines. They are configured using the CODESYS programming environment with standard IEC 61131-3 programming languages and standard Ethernet for communication across drives, I/O, HMIs, PLCs and other industrial devices. Control Techniques' synchronised multi-tasking structure and advanced motion control expertise complete the high performance offering, fully utilising open and industry standard technologies.

Onboard real time Ethernet (using IEEE 1588 V2) provides improved machine control with fast and flexible communications, achieving synchronisation rates across the network of below 1µs, update rates as low as 250µs and a virtually unlimited node count. Control Techniques' advanced new Real Time Machine Control Protocol uses standard Ethernet TCP/IP and UDP to provide a highly efficient and compact message structure that frees up Ethernet network bandwidth and minimises network loading. This allows Unidrive M models to talk directly to each other instead of having to route all communications through the traditional machine controller. Each Ethernet-enabled drive incorporates a dual port Ethernet switch with standard RJ45 connectors.

Certain applications, such as electronic line shafts, can be set up without having to write any programming code at all. In these instances, the drives will start communicating with one another automatically, synchronising their control loops so that they can operate in seamless coordination. Standard Ethernet allows Control Techniques' protocols to work alongside others, such as PROFINET RT, Ethernet/IP and Modbus TCP/IP.

Factories of the future
Tom Alexander, vice president of technology at Control Techniques, says: "Control Techniques' highly advanced new Ethernet protocol has been designed with the factories of the future in mind. The ability of drives in the Unidrive M family to talk directly to each other using this protocol is particularly exciting and it will undoubtedly assist all our manufacturing customers on the essential journey towards smarter production methods."

Based on in-depth research into user demands, another area of innovation in the development of Unidrive M has been the PC tools: Unidrive M Connect and Machine Control Studio. Unidrive M Connect is Control Techniques' new drive configuration and monitoring software, designed to make it easy to access the products' full feature sets. The tool allows users to optimise drive tuning, back up the configuration set and troubleshoot more quickly.

Machine Control Studio supports Control Techniques' new integrated MCi machine control functionality within Unidrive M. The software provides a full function automation development environment that uses open industry standard IEC 61131-3 programming languages and is powered by CODESYS to fully meet Manufacturing Automation application requirements. Unidrive M Connect and Machine Control Studio both use the same communications components, allowing them to run simultaneously using numerous communication protocols.

Tom Alexander says: "Rather than just updating our existing software suite to fit the new product, we developed our new PC tools using the results of an innovative human-centred design programme that took user requirements into account right from the beginning of the design process. Additionally, commissioning and maintenance tasks have been greatly simplified through a user interface that prioritises the most commonly performed tasks, simplifying the experience for all users, whilst advanced users will benefit from the fact that dynamic drive logic diagrams and enhanced searchable listings are present. Meanwhile, the drive and motor performance can be optimised with minimal specialised drive knowledge."

To create the Unidrive M family, Control Techniques conducted the most comprehensive programme of market research in its history. The goal of this research was to allow the company to develop an engineering plan that was entirely focused on customer needs. Jay Wirts, vice president of strategic marketing at Control Techniques, says: "Our research has enabled us to understand the manufacturing market more thoroughly than at any previous point, and the information we received was vital in deciding which customers to target with which products. We found that customers within the manufacturing sector are clustered into seven main groups, each with highly specific needs. As a result of our research, we decided to develop a range of seven drives: one for each main customer group.

"Making a wide selection of drives and drive options available will enable Control Techniques to offer customers a highly optimised drives family that is more closely tailored to their needs than any other offering available on the market. I am convinced that our new range is going to transform the performance and productivity of our customers' machines."
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