The fifth annual LEAP Awards — celebrating leading engineering achievements in product design — was the largest yet. 2022 LEAP categories were divided across the four WTWH Media brands of Design World, Fluid Power World, Fastener Engineering, and EE World. The 14 categories include Additive Manufacturing • Advanced Materials • Connectivity • Embedded Computing • Fastener Technology • Hydraulics • Industrial Automation • Mechanical • Motion Control • Pneumatics • Power Electronics • Software • Switches & Sensors • Test & Measurement.
Critical to LEAP’s success is the involvement of the engineering community. No one at WTWH Media selected the winners. Instead, the editorial team assembled an independent judging panel comprised of a cross-section of OEM design engineers and academics — 14 professionals in total. For each category, judges were free to award Gold, Silver, Bronze, and Honorable Mentions. This year in the category of motion control, there was a Gold, Silver, and Bronze awarded.
2022 LEAP Motion Control Winner — Bronze: PowerFlex 755TS variable frequency drive • Rockwell Automation
The PowerFlex 755TS drive was built to serve any application in a customer facility. While these drives have the highest performance for torque and velocity control for the most demanding applications, they also have everything needed that allows industrial companies to standardize on TotalFORCE drives for a common hardware set, user experience, and capabilities across application, power, motor, and even environmental requirements. They are equipped with many application-specific features built into the standard firmware and a completely customizable on-board logic engine (DeviceLogix), eliminating the need to select or maintain custom firmware or application-specific hardware.
The biggest differentiator with this product is that it has patented TotalFORCE Technology that gives customers a simplified way to keep production running at optimal levels. TotalFORCE Technology can reduce or eliminate the need for a drive tuning expert thanks to a suite of features called Adaptive Control that automatically responds to changes in load, application, and even the machine without user intervention. It can even detect harmful machine resonances that can negatively impact the mechanical systems by preventing the drive from exiting those harmful vibrations. Additionally, these drives are loaded with diagnostic and predictive analytic insights including a condition-based assessment of its own health—allowing users to take a predictive approach to drive maintenance while providing the right information to the right person at the right time.
Development process: A voice of customer process was utilized to establish product requirements, and there were many checkpoints along the way where progress was shared with customers for feedback and improvements. A great example is that this is the first drive with an option for corrosive gas protection with our XT option. Our customers were noticing that new technology wasn’t lasting as long in their environments as the older technology, yet the products still met the standards and certifications as always. To address this issue, Rockwell Automation invested in understanding the cause of the problem: corrosive environments. We investigated customer facilities across the globe, built a state-of-the-art lab to assess the effects of corrosive gas on our products, identified potential risks, and built a solution to protect drives longer in those environments.
Engineering tools used in development: The new PowerFlex 755TS drive is the first six-pulse drive designed with TotalFORCE technology from Rockwell Automation to help customers get the most out of their equipment. Previously only available in PowerFlex 755T drives with active front-end technology, TotalFORCE can now be used in a wider range of applications. This includes traditional fan, pump, and conveyor applications, and more advanced motor control processes that require high-performance features typically found in specialized drive solutions.
Benefits to machine builders: The PowerFlex 755TS drive sets a benchmark as the first six-pulse drive with TotalFORCE technology and provides the following value to end users:
- Predictive maintenance analytics and XT enhanced corrosion resistance to reduce unplanned downtime.
- Higher performance control capabilities to improve quality and throughput.
- Cost optimization from common spare parts.
- Reduced start-up and commissioning efforts for faster time to market.
- Improved mechanical system reliability with vibration detection/suppression and energy efficient move profiles.
2022 LEAP Motion Control Winner — Silver: SMART Electro-Hydraulic Actuator for Autonomous Robot Transport Vehicle • Kyntronics Inc.
Transporting heavy sensitive payloads over land has always been a challenge due to the intricacies of terrain changes. As part of an Autonomous Field Supply Vehicle (AFSV) project, Kyntronics provided 18 actuators for customer; RMD Systems, to help meet those challenges. The AFSV project was being developed for transporting sensitive payload in potential applications, and it needed help with gait control for a large legged robotic platform.
The walking vehicle capabilities and requirements were to transport a payload of over 2,000 lbs. that would be extremely sensitive to shock and vibration. RMD needed an actuator capable of providing high force in a small package and energy efficient while being rugged enough for outdoor use. In addition to meeting the force requirements, Kyntronics SMART Electro-Hydraulic Actuator (SHA) was able to match the criteria for power efficiency and was able to tolerate high shock loading.
Kyntronics collaborated with RMD on the complex actuator requirements that were necessary to allow the vehicle to control the pitch and roll angles and body height of the vehicle during the walking cycle. In addition, the AFSV was developed to be capable of autonomous behaviors including recovery gait, putting the body on ground, leveling the body independent of the terrain, and using an autopilot system onboard to control the vehicle.
The actuators were used on the Leg Nodes. This provided several capabilities including allowing the operator to:
- manipulate each leg joint individually using ‘single leg mode’
- reposition the legs or use the legs as manipulators to move objects.
- control the platform position
- integrate with the sensor system to determine position changes
With support from Kyntronics, RMD successfully designed, built, and tested the AFSV in 20 months from project kickoff. Kyntronics provided three configurations of actuators based on the force and speed requirements of the specific leg joints (Coxa, Femur, and Tibia joints). The actuators were integrated with RMD’s gait engine control software, which uses position and force feedback from the actuators to control the legs and the body of the vehicle. The system has demonstrated omni-directional walking, six DOF body control, and operation on various terrain types while carrying a simulated payload.
The Coxa actuator is responsible for rotating the leg around its vertical axis (analogous to the hip joint). A linkage was used to transform the 6” stroke of the actuator into 180° of rotation.
The femur actuator is installed on the leg. The femur actuator was installed on its side to reduce the overall thickness of the vehicle. By installing the femur actuator inside the Coxa structure, RMD was able to reduce the inertia of the leg, improving the walking performance.
The tibia actuator was installed in the last active leg joint. The tarsus joint (which is attached to the foot) is driven by a bellcrank mechanism that keeps the foot perpendicular to the ground without requiring active control. A position sensor was mounted on the side of each actuator to provide position feedback on the rod position of the actuator. The data from the position sensor was then used to calculate the overall pose of the leg. Additionally, the force in each cylinder was monitored to ensure that the loads on the legs were maintained within safe limits.
Kyntronics SMART electro-hydraulic actuators installed on these three critical leg joints delivered the force density and durability of a hydraulic solution while being energy-efficient and eliminating the leak risks inherent with hydraulics. This innovative actuation solution also provided the low mass and ease of system integration characteristics of an EMA solution. Additionally, the valving inside the Kyntronics actuator allowed the actuators to hold a static load without consuming any power.
2022 LEAP Motion Control Winner — Gold: 60-amp Continuous FlexPro Servo Drives • ADVANCED Motion Controls
The FE060-60C-CM is a FlexPro series servo drive with Integrated Motion Platform And Control Technology (IMPACT) architecture. The FE060-60C-CM offers full tuning control of all servo loops and is designed to drive brushed and brushless servo motors, stepper motors, and AC induction motors. The drive accepts a variety of external command signals, or can use the builtin Motion Engine, an internal motion controller used with Sequencing and Indexing commands. Programmable digital and analog I/O are included to enhance interfacing with external controllers and devices. The FE060-60C-CM features a CANopen interface for network communication and USB connectivity for drive configuration and setup. All drive and motor parameters are stored in non-volatile memory. IMPACT (Integrated Motion Platform And Control Technology combines exceptional processing capability and high-current components to create powerful, compact, feature-loaded servo solutions. IMPACT is used in all FlexPro drives and is available in custom products as well.
Other options in the series include the FE060-60C-EM and the FM060-60C-EM with EtherCAT interfaces for network communication using CANopen over EtherCAT (CoE) as well as USB connectivity for drive configuration and setup.
From the supplier:
There’s no way. You’re pulling my leg. How is that possible? I’m sorry, you said six-TEEN right?
These are the things people say when we tell them our little 1.5 x 1 inch FlexPro servo drive has a 60-amp continuous current rating at 10-55 VDC. While the disbelief is understandable, there’s no deception here; we’ve really done it. How did we engineer a servo drive with such high power-density? In the mid 2010s, we set out on a mission to engineer a high-current servo drive platform with the smallest possible footprint. Thousands of man-hours and just as many cups of coffee later, we figured out how to do it.
While we can’t give away all our secrets, we can tell you the stacked board layout, the baseplate configuration and material, even the copper pins are all modeled and optimized to achieve superior heat transfer and cooling. The power devices and switching technology are designed to balance high power, high efficiency, low thermal losses and high reliability. We scratched the surface of this technology with the first FlexPro drives released in the spring of 2019, featuring a maximum continuous output current of true 25 amps rms at full operational duty. However, by the fall of 2021, we’d refined it and created new servo drives with 240% of that current output without increasing the physical size. The Benefits of FlexPro FlexPro servo drives are well-suited for a variety of applications. These include mobile robots, fixed robots, cobots, aeronautics, portable devices, and just about any application where space or weight might be of concern. FE060-60C-CM CANopen, PCB-mount, 60-amp continuous FlexPro Servo Drive FE060-60C-EM EtherCAT, PCB-mount, 60-amp continuous FlexPro Servo Drive The small size of FlexPro servo drives allows them to be installed in a distributed fashion where they can be positioned next to the motor, or in some cases within the motor. This reduces the noise issues and costs that come with long cable runs.
In any battery-powered application, lighter components mean more efficient operation and a longer duty cycle between charges, saving time and money. But there’s more to these servo drives than their small size and incredible power-density. As the Flex in the name implies, FlexPro servo drives provide engineers with flexibility in their designs with many possible system configurations. FlexPro is compatible with …
|CANopen||Brushed||BiSS-C Absolute Encoder|
|EtherNet/IP||Stepper||EnDat 2.2 Absolute Encoder|
Not a fan of the PCB mount integration? No problem. We have the “machine embedded” variations that feature an interface board to integrate using Molex connectors and flying leads while maintaining the compact size. In addition, for customers with specific needs, we can create modified or full custom servo drive solutions using the FlexPro technology as a base.
With compactness, power, and versatility, the 60-amp FlexPro servo drives are ADVANCED Motion Controls’ answer to the expanding motion control needs in various fields. Engineers in robotics, automation, aerospace, medical, and other industries deserve a compact drive solution that makes their jobs easier. Whether it’s an AGV that needs to cut back on weight or a cobot arm with limited space in the joints FlexPro allows engineers to meet mechanical design constraints without compromising on power and performance.
These 60-amp FlexPro servo drives push the boundaries of power-density in servo control and are a direct response to the needs of engineers in the industry.