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Cost-cutting PC-based motion system eliminates dedicated hardware

15 August, 2011

The Israeli motion control specialist ACS Motion Control has developed a PC-based machine and motion control system that allows a standard PC to run a machine host application, a graphical user interface (GUI), a real-time motion controller and a PLC, without any extra hardware. The SPiiPlusSC system is said to simplify connections, and to be more cost-effective than dedicated motion controllers, while providing a similar level of performance.

The SPiiPlusSC control software, which includes its own real-time operating system, runs on one of a multi-core PC’s processors, and provides high-speed host-to-controller communications over shared RAM and virtual TCP/IP. It manages all of an installation’s drives and I/O processes using one of the PC’s Ethernet ports as an EtherCat master communications channel.

The diagram (above) shows the architecture of ACS’s new motion control system (left) compared to that of a traditional high-end, multi-axis, PC-based motion system (right).

There are two versions: the SPiiPlusSC-HP for complex and demanding applications involving up to 64 axes; and the SPiiPlusSC-LT, for handling up to eight axes in cost-sensitive applications. Both provide the same servo and motion performance.

“The SPiiPlusSC motion controller enables the highest motion control performance possible at the lowest price,” says Jason Goerges, ACS’ sales and support manager in the US. “Previously, motion control solutions for demanding applications – such as SMT assembly systems with high-volume data-transfer needs – were based on a costly dedicated motion controller card that plugs into the PC and communicates to it over PCI or a similar bus.

“The SPiiPlusSC,” he continues, “is a cost effective, state-of the-art replacement for dedicated motion controllers. Because of its direct shared memory access with the host application, and inter-processor interrupt capabilities, the SPiiPlusSC provides the fastest possible controller-to-host communications.”

Complementing the controller is a range of EtherCat drives and I/O modules that can provide thousands of I/O points. The open architecture also supports EtherCat components from other suppliers.

The system can be programmed using either the PLCopen IEC61131-3 languages or a multitasking motion language called ACSPL+. API libraries are also available for Windows-based host programming. A controller simulator allows users to develop motion applications and front-ends without any hardware.

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