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4 Things to Consider When Selecting a Motion Control Network

4 Things to Consider When Selecting a Motion Control Network

When choosing a motion control network for a machine that requires motion control, there are four main considerations every engineer should take into account:

  1. Throughput
  2. Cycle time
  3. Compatibility
  4. Easy operation and maintenance

A Quick Note on Price

When shopping for any product, price is always a factor, but don’t let it be the deciding factor when it comes to the reliability and efficiency of your motion system. You surely don’t want to overspend on an unnecessary solution, but you will often find that it is far more detrimental to purchase an inferior motion control network that isn’t suited for your applications.

Having said that, these are the four primary considerations you should account for when building your motion system:

#1: Maximizing Application Throughput

Most motion control applications require faster speeds in order to maximize their throughput. The faster they operate, the more they will produce. But the higher their speed, the more fine-tuned they must be in order to operate reliably, all while decreasing errors and the amount of maintenance they will need.

Most modern digital motion control networks are Ethernet-based, but they have major differences at the protocol level and in their communication hardware and motion components. Most motion components have a communications chip that links them to other network components and works with the protocol optimize motion control in the system.

When analyzing different networks for your system, make sure they are able to reach your desired throughput while maintaining reliability. Most modern motion control networks suffer very few component failures, so reliability depends upon error checking and the ability to recover from errors quickly. Errors can occur in data transfer (position, velocity, torque, etc.) between the controller and motion control components. Rarely, this data can become corrupted or lost, so the network should be able to detect the problem quickly to help rectify or enunciate the error.

High quality motion control networks will automatically error out or resend data if it detects that it has become corrupt or lost. This prevents machine shut the machine down, crashing, or machine reset, losing valuable time in the process.

#2: Cycle Time

Most Ethernet-based communications have an operating speed of 100 – 1000Mbps, but it’s cycle time, which dictates how quickly motion control systems can perform consecutive actions, that determines how fast applications move. Cycle time is determined by the total number of components, the amount of data that is being sent to them, and the speed of the network.

While most Ethernet-based motion control networks allow users to change the amount of data sent to each component, the best networks will allow users to input their network architecture, calculate the cycle time, and operate at a specific speed. These networks take into account everything from the number of components to the amount of data, the length of the cables connecting them, speed, and other factors to guarantee the system operates at the desired throughput to achieve the application goals.

#3: Compatibility

Having a wide selection of interoperable components on your motion control network is essential. Many machine and robotics manufacturers have preferred automation component suppliers, so making sure your network works seamlessly with all components of the system will eliminate any integration issues. The good news is that Ethernet based motion control networks usually have a conformance test that checks the compatibility of components.

Having a motion control system with a wide range of compatibility will allow you to mix components from different manufacturers, allowing the “best of breed” components on the system for your application without having interoperability issues.

#4 Easy Operation and Maintenance

Finally, the Ethernet-based motion control system you choose should be simple to operate and maintain. Having “hot plug-and-play” on your system saves time since components can be swapped without interrupting communication between components or having to shut down and restart the system. This makes both maintenance of the system and operation simple and easy.


Need Help Choosing an Ethernet-based Motion Control System for Your Application? Contact AMMC Today. 

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