Sometimes less is more, and when it comes to motion control solutions, an integrated motor-drive system can be the best match for your application. While integrated systems often provide a more simplified solution, they aren’t the perfect match for every application. Are integrated motor-drive combinations right for your system? We can help you make the best decision.
What Is an Integrated Motor-Drive System?
In the simplest of terms, an integrated motor-drive system combines a motor and a drive, and often they feature other automation components like encoders, motion controllers, and network protocols such as Ethernet/IP, EtherCat, CANOpen, and more.
The Benefits of Integrated Motor-Drive Systems
Integrated motor-drive systems have several benefits for the right application. These components are generally ready out of the box and require little effort to integrate into a system.
Integrated motor-drives simplify the automation process because of their:
- Reliability: fewer connected components means less cabling and wiring and fewer chances of connectivity issues and failure.
- Potential reduction in costs: in some cases purchasing motors and drives separately can be more expensive.
- Time-saving ability: easy setup, wiring, network distribution and integration means your engineers spend less time for panel design and layout.
- Simple and easy programming options: little development knowledge is necessary.
- Space-saving capability: less cabling and the ability to eliminate external controllers (in certain applications) means these components require very little panel space to support.
- Connectivity: EtherCAT, CANopen, Ethernet/IP, and other networks available. This allows a high number of motors to easily be distributed and networked on a single machine.
Are They Right for You?
Despite the numerous benefits of deploying integrated motor-drive systems, they do come with some drawbacks:
- Limited configuration options: although they are easy to use, the control capability for integrated motors can be limited.
- Less customization: as the motor/drive/control systems are integrated, fewer options exist verses a separate control/drive/motor system.
- Limited speed and torque (typically 1500 watt or less) as drive sizes are limited in this type of packaging.
Whether or not an integrated motor-drive is right for your application depends on a few things:
- Torque, Speed, and Position Modes: if simplified control is required, an integrated motor-drive is a good fit. For more complex position, speed, and torque control applications a separate motor/drive/control may be a better fit.
- Environment: most integrated motor-drives are not rated as explosion proof and should not be used in harsh environments like refineries, mills and any place where sparks or suspended particles are common.
- High torque requirements: integrated motor-drives have limited horsepower (torque and speed). If heavy amounts of torque and speed are needed, separate motors and drives are recommended.
Integrated motor-drives tend to have similar to slightly higher costs vs separate motors and drives. However, the savings come into play when factoring in installation times, wiring, distribution, and employee labor costs. A case can be made that the time saved by using integrated solutions makes motor-drives more cost efficient than separated solutions.