Servo Drive Trends for 2020

2020 is shaping up to be an exciting year for new servo drive technologies and capabilities. Continuing with the trend from the past few years, servo drives in 2020 will have even more power and more features packed into the micro-sized form factor that’s becoming popular in the industry.

Mobile robotics and tightly integrated machines are driving forces for miniaturization. These applications are demanding more power, higher voltage, less heat, and easier integration, all while maintaining the same or better performance than their predecessors. Warehouse robots that fulfill online orders, automated floor scrubbers, robotic arms and compact fluid handling machines for laboratory automation are all examples of applications that are driving new innovations. The demand is for servo drives that used to weigh half a kilogram 15 years ago to weigh less than 25 grams today!

Micro-Sized Servo Drives with More Power

3 servo drives on business cardAs a starting point in 2020 we already had servo drives capable of outputting 25A continuous and 50A peak in a footprint of 38mm x 25mm.  If this is hard to picture, imagine 3 servo drives sitting side-by-side on a standard business card with room to spare.  Now imagine even more power.  In the first half of the year expect to see new designs capable of 50A continuous – resulting in double the power in the same footprint.

micro-sized compact servo drive with pencil

Power = Voltage x Current.  We already talked about current, but we haven’t forgotten about the other half of the power equation.  FlexPro™ servo drives can already operate at up to 55VDC, but as the year progresses, versions will be available that operate at a variety of voltages up to and including our 200VDC class.  The increased voltage will open the possibilities in terms of working with bigger and faster motors giving machine designers more options to make their machines the best that they can be.  As with the higher current drives, the higher voltage units will have the same 38mm x 25mm footprint making them industry leaders in terms of size and output power.

Increased Design Flexibility

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FE FlexPro Drive

Super compact PCB-mount drive that can be integrated directly to your system's interface.

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FM FlexPro Drive

Machine-embedded style servo drive that can connect to your system with cables.

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FD FlexPro Drive

Developer board with multiple connection options perfect for prototyping and testing.

In 2020 we’re making the same servo drives available in multiple form factors.  This means the same core servo drive is used in three different styles: development board, plug-in style and a machine embedded servo drive.  This gives engineers flexibility in their designs, especially for progressing from prototyping to production.  For the first step an engineer can select a development board for their proof of concept.  These are ideal because the oversized connectors and ample spacing make it easy to get acquainted with the wiring and get everything hooked up.  Once the proof of concept is complete engineers can opt to go with plug-in style drives that allow the drives to be soldered directly to the machine’s PC Board or alternatively go with a drive that uses connectors and cabling.  The first option provides the ultimate in embedded designs and eliminates wiring problems and reduces cost, the second option allows an open frame servo drive to be used like a traditionally wired servo drive.  Regardless what the engineer chooses, they can be assured of an easy transition between form-factors because at the core of each choice is the same servo drive.

Extended Environment

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Extended Environment Overview

Servo drives in mobile applications experience much harsher conditions than traditional machines where the electrical components are installed in stationary cabinets.  In some cases, the environmental conditions exceed the ratings of standard servo drives, this is when extended environment products are necessary.

ADVANCED Motion Controls has had Extended Environment servo drives for over 10 years, but for 2020 we’re pushing the boundaries further than ever before.  Several new models have already been introduced in Q1 including extended environment versions of the micro-sized FlexPro drives.

Extended Temperature

You can try to keep the drives cool with forced convection or heat sinks, but sometimes there is no choice but to subject the servo drives to higher temperatures.  Off-the-shelf extended environment servo drives introduced in 2020 can operate in ambient temperatures up to 95°C, a new high for standard units.

Extended Shock/Vibration

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Mobile robots in the warehouse, and AGVs in the battlefield, are high vibration environments.  To keep the components on the board and to keep things from breaking when the shaking starts we use low-profile components, RTV, and conformal coating.  For 2020 we have introduced drives rated to 25 Grms for 5 minutes in 3 axes of vibration.  Coupled with our high temperature ratings our extended environment servo drives are perfect for mobile applications

Extended Altitude and Pressure

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Whether floating high in a balloon, controlling a lower stage rocket engine, or moving a camera at 6,000m below the ocean’s surface, sometimes servo drives are tasked with operating at extreme atmospheric pressures.  The latest extended environment servo drives in 2020 are rated to +25000m altitude, while custom drives have operated at pressures equivalent to -6000m below the ocean’s surface.  If you’re looking for a servo drive to operate at extreme pressures, be sure to start your search by taking a look at our Extended Environment products!

Big Servo Drives with More Power

Earlier we told you about our amazing power density on the smaller products, but we’ve also got big plans for larger products.  Our vehicle mount drives are a perfect platform for applications like electric mobility and other battery powered applications that demand a high current at a low voltage.  We already have drives capable of 150A continuous and 250A peak, but we want to aim higher in 2020.  It’s still a little early to announce the final specifications but we’re looking at drives anywhere from 200A/400A (continuous/peak) to 400A/800A or possibly even more!  If this sounds like what you’re looking for, reach out right away so we make sure to include the power level you need.

More Networks

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The world is always coming up with new network busses that are faster, safer and have lower latency.  We like to say “For the right opportunity, we can work with any network.”  We are already well established with networks such as EtherCAT, Ethernet, CANopen, POWERLINK, RS232/RS485 and others.  In 2020 keep an eye out for Ethernet/IP and PROFINET IRT as new capabilities to our standard product offering.  Reach out and let us know if you need other networks!

Improved Controls

More control capabilities have been added to our Click&Move® automation solution in 2020.  Enhanced feedforward, command shaping, and other analytical tools help increase system stability to allow for higher gain values and higher system performance.

As a reminder, the ability to add custom biquad filters have been available in our servo drives for several years.  Biquads can be added to the control block diagram in several places including the command signal, position loop, velocity loop, current loop, velocity feedback and position feedback.  Based on the coefficients biquads can act as low-pass, high-pass, band-pass and notch filters.  Reach out to us if you need help with calculating the coefficients.

Customization

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We maintain an extensive product offering that covers a wide range of applications, however we understand that sometimes the standard products don’t quite fit.  This is why we offer modifications to standard products as well as fully custom solutions.  In fact, when we consider all the servo drives that we sell, the numbers can be roughly divided into 1/3 standards, 1/3 modified, and 1/3 customs.

Whether you need a different size or shape, different connectors, more power, better scaling, more resolution, or any other change, always let us know so we can talk about the possibilities!  Also any of the new products that you see in 2020 are available to be customized!

Conclusion

Stay tuned because we’ve got a lot planned for 2020!  Follow our product announcements on social media and let us know about your next project!

 

by Rene Ymzon, Marketing Manager

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