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  • Writer's pictureMatt Prellwitz

3 Perfect Applications for Distributed Servo Technology

Servomotors with integrated drives and One Cable Automation can streamline applications across industries

AMP8000 in a packaging application

Cutting down cable count and reducing electrical cabinet footprints are great goals for any application. But there are several instances where it’s particularly advantageous. When talking with engineers about the AMP8000 distributed servo drive system, I find that they often see the benefits of servomotors with integrated amplifiers, IP65-rated distribution modules, onboard functional safety and One Cable Automation (OCA) for power and communication to the motors as well as peripheral devices. Additional built-in features – including gantry brake, cogging compensation and collision detection – make the AMP8000 line even more impressive.

Placing distributed drive technology in the context of specific machines, however, isn’t always as obvious. Let’s look at some standard applications where applying distributed servo drive technology makes sense in terms of performance, cost and engineering effort.

1. Drive technology for fabrication

From plasma, fiber laser and waterjet cutters to milling and machine tools, precise coordinated motion is critical for high part quality and throughput. Intuitive programming of CNC, NC PTP and NC I applications is critical in digital manufacturing, but so is straightforward installation of motion hardware.

AMP8000 distributed servo system layout
One Cable Automation minimizes cabling running back to the electrical cabinet.

The distributed servo drive approach with AMP8000 allows for a single cable to run to a distribution module on the gantry framework, with much shorter cables runs to each axis on the cutting head. A single cable with OCA via the EtherCAT P standard could run to each servomotor moving the gantry over the workpiece. Here, the onboard gantry brake functionality in Beckhoff servo drives prevents the mechanical components from becoming skewed and needing time-consuming recalibration.

Above all, this setup would be possible with just one cable running back to the electrical cabinet. And no drives would need to be stored inside the enclosure. By fully leveraging the AMP8620 distribution boxes, you could add servos for conveying the workpieces in and out of the work cell to an automated storage system. You can also add peripheral devices such as vision systems, sensors and more to provide information on part quality and machine health.

2. Smooth motion control in packaging

Optimized CNC functionality can also be beneficial in many packaging machines, but what’s more common in the industry is continuous, reliable high-speed motion. This shows up in, among others, feeding bag material and sealing it with Vertical Form-Fill-Seal (VFFS) solutions, turning feed screws, labeling, printing, cartoning and capping of containers. The AMP8000 series servomotors meet the ideal speed, torque and inertia specifications for packaging. Cogging compensation in Beckhoff servo drives provides the ability to perform automated changeovers. The MC Torque Control functionality in TwinCAT offers additional benefits as well.

In these instances, the distributed servo drive solution with OCA and distribution boxes makes even more sense. Packaging machines often work together in a line rather than separate processes. The AMP8000 can power up to 13 integrated servomotors with just a single cable leading back to the electrical cabinet. Let’s not skip past this: Many standard servo products still require a cable for power and another for feedback, not to mention the drives and electrical protection in the cabinet. In an industry like packaging, where floor space is at a premium, AMP8000 can be a gamechanger – greatly reducing cabinet sizes or helping to eliminate cabinets entirely.

Commissioning becomes simpler, too. If the motors are spread across several different machines, the design can simply feature a separate distribution module mounted on each machine, so during setup, engineers must merely connect one cable from cell to cell. EtherCAT communication makes AMP8000 the perfect rotary motion solution to work in tandem with advanced mechatronics that are taking hold in packaging, such as XTS and XPlanar.

3. Servo solutions for material handling

The AMP8000 solution’s benefits extend upstream and downstream from packaging, in material handling for assembly and intralogistics. It offers the same benefits mentioned above: reduction in floor space, ability to power integrated servomotors and peripheral devices via one cable from the electrical cabinet, precise synchronization with mechatronics, etc. However, the distributed servo drive system also optimizes robotics, which is a mainstay in both industries.

With SCARA, six-axis, Delta and other robot types, the AMP8000 reduces footprint, engineering effort and allows for more peripheral devices with less wiring. The integrated servomotors deliver speed, torque and inertia that’s optimal for robotics, whether manipulating delicate workpieces or handling shipping boxes in a fulfillment center. Unlike competing products, which feature bulky drives bolted to the side of the motor, the form factor of the AMP8000 solution is nearly identical to standard servomotors, so mechanical changes are not necessary on standard robots. A high arc flash rating makes this servomotor series optimal for installation in any pick-and-place robot, such as those from Autonox. And with the distribution boxes in the field, it’s easy to add more robots on a line to meet greater throughput demands without having to make room inside the electrical cabinet for additional drives.

servomotor with integrated servo drive
The AMP8000 system integrates the servo drive into the servomotor in an almost identical form factor.

In both settings, integrated functional safety via TwinSAFE Motion really shines here. The integrated servo drives offer high-accuracy, SIL2-rated encoders and built-in Safe Torque Off (STO) and Safe Stop 1 (SS1), with the option to add more functions. So in addition to reducing footprint and wiring requirements for motion control applications, you also reap both benefits in the safety system. When an operator breaks a light curtain barrier – to feed more product, place parcels on a conveyor or perform quality inspection – the robots can automatically move to a safe position, stop or activate Safe Limited Speed (SLS).

Evolve your application with AMP8000

Reducing footprint, engineering effort and cabling – not to mention component count for other devices – is not exclusive to these industries. Generally speaking, reducing requirements in all of these areas should lead to significant cost savings. With its dynamic, integrated approach, AMP8000 delivers opportunities to level up a massive range of machine types.

Are you ready to open up new possibilities in automation by ditching control cabinets? Download our whitepaper on cabinetless machine design!


Matt Prellwitz is the Drive Technology Product Manager for Beckhoff Automation LLC.


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