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Machine controller `could halve development times`

23 December, 2010

At the recent SPS/IPC/Drives show in Germany, Aerotech was previewing a PC-based machine controller that combines an IEC 61131-3 compliant PLC engine with a multi-axis motion engine. The customisable MotionPAC system, due to go on sale in March 2011, will control multi-axis motion trajectories to micron accuracies using Aerotech`s direct-drive positioning mechanics.

The integrated development environment will allow machine-builders and OEMs to cut machine integration and building timescales, with machine tags defined only once and available across all applications, regardless of the programming language. According to Aerotech, it can cut development times by 30–50%.

The new controller is equipped with sophisticated algorithms and hardware options said to boost machine speeds and acceleration, and to increase production throughput. These include tools that reduce unwanted harmonic and periodic disturbances, minimise dynamic following errors, increase dynamic accuracy improve in-position stability.

Aerotech says that, for the first time, these functions have been combined with IEC 61131-3 programming to deliver the reliability of a PLC with the flexibility of the PC.

With real-time position data from nanometre-level encoders, the controller can output position-synchronised pulses to control external events such as precisely timed “electronic gearbox” functions, using a combination of IEC 61131-3 and Microsoft’s .Net Framework-based programming.

Programming options include adding custom function blocks using .Net, or running AeroBasic programs on the controller and interfacing with other interface software such as LabView. The controller can also be used to position axes while acquiring high-speed digital and analogue data.

For more news from the SPS/IPC/Drives Show, see our detailed report.

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