Prepare for industry 4.0 with new drive

Author William Leventon
October 15, 2019 - 06:00pm

Featuring what the manufacturer calls cabinet-free technology, a novel drive can help users slash the amount of cabling on shop floors and prepare for industry 4.0.

In operations involving machine tools, drives work with motors in the performance of functions, such as part loading and unloading, tool handling, and lifting and lowering spindles. In a conventional setup, however, the drives are located in a control cabinet while the motors are with the machine. Drives and motors are connected to each other via power and communications cables. This means that 50 cables would be needed to connect 25 drives in the control cabinet to their corresponding motors on the machine.

This arrangement changes dramatically when machine tool users opt for the IndraDrive Mi servodrive from Bosch Rexroth Corp., Hoffman Estates, Illinois. Combining the drive and motor, the IndraDrive Mi is located on the machine rather than in a control cabinet. All the drives in a particular setup are connected in series through a single hybrid cable that transmits both power and communications signals.

An example of a material handling application with the IndraDrive Mi.  Image courtesy of Bosch Rexroth

Integration of the drive and motor into an individual unit greatly reduces the hardware in the control cabinet, according to Bosch Rexroth.

Also, “you don’t have to expend energy cooling off the drives with an air conditioning system,” said Joaquin Ocampo, product manager of motors and drives.

The setup can be cabinet-free with the addition of an IP65 power supply module, which eliminates the need for power supply components in the control cabinet. A cabinet-free arrangement can lower the amount of power and communicationscabling needed for an application by up to 90%, Bosch Rexroth reports.

Besides cabinet-free operation, the IndraDrive Mi features open-core engineering, simplifying communication between the programmable logic controller machine tool environment and PC users.

“OCE allows programmers using C, Java or any other high-level PC language to control or obtain information from our products,” Ocampo said.

Cabinet-free technology of the IndraDrive Mi. Image courtesy of Bosch Rexroth

He said OCE makes it easy for users to monitor system parameters, such as torque, position and motor temperature, to see if they are in the proper range. This data can be accessed using a smartphone or tablet, and users can email alerts to proper personnel when data shows that something is wrong.

“We give them the ability to do that without knowing or writing PLC code,” Ocampo said.

For easier communication, the IndraDrive Mi also offers a multi-Ethernet option that supports four communication protocols: Sercos, ProfiNet, EtherCat and EtherNet/IP.

As Ocampo sees it, one of the main advantages of the cabinet-free IndraDrive Mi is its ability to increase the flexibility of the manufacturing process, which makes the drive a good choice for firms trying to keep up with trends and become ready for future developments.

“Traditional manufacturing involves big batches, but it seems everybody wants something customized today,” he said. To meet the demands of these customers, “our clients have to be able to adjust to orders of different sizes and different products. The IndraDrive Mi is vital for this because it can make a machine modular.”

This means that manufacturing steps and the equipment required for those steps can be easily added or removed as needed, Ocampo said.

To meet the needs of a particular manufacturing application, for example, “you might just connect a module that has three (IndraDrive) Mis, and you’re good to go,” he said. “Or if you don’t need that module for a particular product, you just disconnect it, and you’re good to go. That flexibility is part of the industry 4.0 factory of the future that we visualize, and we believe that the IndraDrive Mi is going to be a big part of that future.”