The basic idea is easy to understand. An integrated motor-drive system combines a motor and a drive (at the very least) but can also include other components such as controllers or encoders.
One benefit of such integrated systems is obvious; there is no need to purchase multiple components separately and take time to combine them and get them to all work together. Integrated motor-drive combinations can usually be set up out-of-the-box with little engineering effort required.
Integrated motors offer greater reliability because there are fewer parts to connect together. And fewer external connections mean less cabling and wiring. Less cabling and wiring helps reduce costs. Also, the fact that the components that one would usually purchase separately such as the motion controller and the drive are integrated into one physical unit drives down costs as well. There are a few drawbacks however, including reduced configuration options due to lack of customizability as well as the issue of potential vendor lock-in.
Integrated motor-drives can reduce development times via quick and easy programming. Communication options range from simple serial communication links such as RS232 or RS485 to more advanced network topologies suited to complex motion control tasks such as CANopen, DeviceNet, or Ethernet protocols.
Designing machines with integrated motors has a number of benefits including helping to reduce machine size, cost and complexity. In some cases, integrated motors can also eliminate external controllers such as PLCs. Such integrated systems can significantly reduce the amount of space required for a machine by consolidating components, eliminating cabling, and possibly the need for entire enclosures.