Manufacturing AUTOMATION

Rockwell Automation introduces new mechatronic solutions portfolio

November 12, 2009
By Manufacturing AUTOMATION

For builders of sophisticated machines that require excellent flexibility and throughput, Rockwell Automation has introduced a new mechatronic solutions portfolio consisting of software tools, motion control products and support. The portfolio helps engineers to collaborate and reduce machine costs and development time by providing a common forum where design input from the mechanical, controls, software and electrical engineers can be more easily gathered and evaluated, the company says.

Mechatronics is a collaborative venture between mechanical, electrical and control design engineers to optimize machine design. However, due to high costs and lack of easy-to-use tools associated with virtual prototyping, mechatronics has traditionally proven challenging for machine builders to integrate into their design process.

“Engineers from each group typically design their machine component separately and combine everything for the first time in a physical prototype,” explained John Pritchard, global product marketing manager, Kinetix Motion Control, Rockwell Automation. “This approach can be costly and time consuming, and any changes to the design require creation of a modified physical prototype. Our mechatronic solutions portfolio can help reduce design time and prototype costs by allowing machine builders to create any number of virtual prototypes, leveraging analysis tools to identify potential design improvements much earlier in the process. Machine builders can then select only the most promising designs — perhaps two or three instead of the twenty original concepts — for physical prototyping.”

The new mechatronic solutions portfolio from Rockwell Automation features:

  • Updated Motion Analyzer software, used by machine builders to help select the best-suited drive-motor-actuator combination for their application, now provides interoperability with SolidWorks 3D CAD software. This interoperability helps shorten lead times and delivers a highly graphical environment for designing machines and sophisticated motion profiles. Also, the Motion Analyzer software is now capable of transferring motion profiles directly into Rockwell Software RSLogix 5000 software, helping reduce programming time.
  • Allen-Bradley RDD-Series direct drive rotary servo motors offer rotary direct drive technology that minimizes the need for power transmission devices and can help reduce machine complexity, system compliance and energy consumption while delivering high dynamic performance, fast settling times and better overall control of the load.
  • Allen-Bradley LDC-Series and LDL-Series linear servo motors provide machine builders with precise, linear motion capabilities at a cost-effective price point. They have no “wear items” such as bearings, gears and belts, minimizing the need for routine maintenance and replacement parts for improved reliability over other linear actuation methods.
  • Allen-Bradley MP-Series and TL-Series electric cylinders offer machine builders a quiet, clean and energy-efficient alternative to pneumatics and other nonservo methods for linear motion actuation. They also offer improved flexibility and repeatability with less mechanical vibration, delivering an excellent mechatronic outcome.
  • MP-Series integrated linear stages simplify machine design and are well-suited for a variety of applications that require loads to be supported and moved with precise linear positioning and velocity control. Available in single and multiaxis configurations, the pre-engineered stages deliver high-performance linear motion in an easy-to-use mechanical package.

“This portfolio leverages many tools engineers already have on hand and are comfortable using – it was developed to help machine builders do more with less: less time, less energy, less raw material and less cost,” Pritchard said. “The Motion Analyzer software tool helps reduce design time, improve machine efficiency and reduce the need for physical prototypes. The hardware solutions offer tighter coupling between the control and machine function, and help eliminate many of the undesirable traits associated with powertrain components, such as backlash, compliance, noise and energy losses.”

One Rockwell Automation customer recently used the Rockwell Automation mechatronic solutions portfolio to identify stability and throughput improvement opportunities on the rotary saw used in their packaging machine. By replacing the motor, gearbox and timing belt used to drive the saw with direct drive technology, the machine was more stable, met their parts per minute needs, and saved eight hours of assembly time.

“For machine builders designing sophisticated equipment with high flexibility, efficiency and throughput requirements — such as packaging, converting, printing and web or automation applications — mechatronics is an excellent starting point,” Pritchard said. “We are committed to continued investment in our mechatronic solutions portfolio and will continue to add new technology to help engineers build more innovative machines.”

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