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EtherCat motion controller handles 64 axes entirely in software

23 February, 2012

The US/Israeli motion control specialist, ACS Motion Control, has developed a software- and EtherCat-based motion control platform that allows standard PCs to act as 64-axis real-time motion controllers and high-speed PLCs entirely in software. The SPiiPlusSC soft controller is said to simplify motion controls by eliminating the need for dedicated controller hardware, as well as avoiding latency and dependence on the Windows operating system.

The software installs a real-time operating system automatically on a PC and converts a standard Ethernet port into an EtherCat master communication channel to manage all connected drives and I/O. It communicates with a host application via simultaneous virtual TCP/IP and DMA (direct memory access) channels, providing high throughput.

“The PC-based SPiiPlus soft controller platform is the world`s most powerful EtherCat motion and machine controller that also minimises costs for semiconductor, HDD, biomedical, PV equipment and LED manufacturers,” explains Jason Goerges, ACS’ sales and support manager. “The SPiiPlusSC leverages the processing power of the modern PC and the connectivity of a real-time open industrial Ethernet network to provide a cost-effective replacement for dedicated motion controllers.”

The controller is available in two versions: the SPiiPlusSC-HP, for complex, high-performance applications with up to 64 axes; and the SPiiPlusSC-LT, for cost-sensitive applications with one to eight axes. Both versions provide the same servo and motion performance and are claimed to be more cost-effective than systems requiring dedicated controllers.

Complementing the controller is a range of EtherCat motor drives and I/O modules that can provide thousands of I/O points. The open architecture also supports EtherCat components from ACS and other suppliers. Programming in achieved using the PLCopen IEC61131-3 languages and the ACSPL+ multi-tasking motion language. API libraries are also included for Windows-based host programming. A controller simulator allows users to develop motion applications and front-ends without using any hardware.

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