Analysis: Use of brushless motors grows for factory floor and beyond

Brushless permanent magnet (PM) motors continue to evolve into high torque, high efficiency, smaller sized packages. They currently dominate electric motors in office automation, medical instruments, and a wide range of factory floor automation applications (including robots, semiconductor equipment, material handling, packaging machines, nut runners, machine tool drives). Now, they are beginning to move into lower-cost, high-volume automotive and appliance applications, albeit in selective cases.

01/02/2008


Thousand Oaks, CA — Brushless permanent magnet (PM) motors continue to evolve into high torque, high efficiency, smaller sized packages. They currently dominate electric motors in office automation (such as printers, disk drives, CDs, DVDs, and photocopiers), medical instruments (centrifuges, blood analysis, CAT scans, metering pumps), and a wide range of factory floor automation applications (including robots, semiconductor equipment, material handling, packaging machines, nut runners, machine tool drives). Now, they are beginning to move into lower-cost, high-volume automotive and appliance applications, albeit in selective cases.

Brushless PM motors — also known as brushless dc, brushless ac synchronous, and brushless servo motors, among others — have benefited from the discovery of rare earth magnets, best represented by samarium cobalt and neodymium-iron-boron types. Magnet manufacturers continue to improve incrementally the rare earth magnet’s magnetic energy levels, approaching 55 mega-gauss-oersteds. An Olympic weightlifter would find it difficult to pull such a magnet off the refrigerator.

Concurrent development of solid-state devices in the form of integrated circuits (ICs), power modules (inverters), microprocessors, and digital signal processors (DSPs) is providing the impetus for cost effective drives with electronic commutation approaching $10 in some high-volume-speed based applications. Integrating power and control functions equips the motion control user with the tools needed to construct a full motion control system. This continuous revolution in power and control electronics gives these devices the capability to expand into new applications.

The brushless PM motor is considered an excellent servo motor. Its high-torque and high-power efficiency allows for its use in smaller devices and machines. Although servo motors are used in precision position applications, in high performance incremental motion application, efficiency plays a direct role in terms of minimizing losses, thereby providing the motor with superior thermal performance. Lower eddy currents, hysteresis, and parasitic losses in the motor mean more thermal headroom and higher torque levels.

Today’s motor design engineer has superior design simulation tools available to take advantage of more customized brushless PM motors with improved performance. All motor types benefit from FEA (finite element analysis) and global simulation tools. The intrinsic performance advantage of the brushless PM motor and the latest integrated drives will promote new applications, particularly in power applications of 10 kW and lower.

For more on servo systems, see Product Research article on servo motors, p. 54, in the January 2008 Control Engineering North American edition, available online at www.controleng.com/archive

Where are you starting to apply brushless permanent magnet motors that you hadn't previously? Have any questions or recommendations about the use or application of these motors?

Use the "Post a comment" feature linked here, and to the right, to share your views

.

Dan Jones

,

Incremotion Associates

, for the Control Engineering News Desk
( Register here and scroll down to select your choice of eNewsletters free .)





No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2015 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
Hannover Messe 2016: Taking hold of the future - Partner Country status spotlights U.S. manufacturing; Honoring manufacturing excellence: The 2015 Product of the Year Winners
Inside IIoT: How technology, strategy can improve your operation; Dry media or web scrubber?; Six steps to design a PM program
World-class manufacturing: A recipe for success: Finding the right mix for a salad dressing line; 2015 Salary Survey: Manufacturing slump dims enthusiasm
Getting to the bottom of subsea repairs: Older pipelines need more attention, and operators need a repair strategy; OTC preview; Offshore production difficult - and crucial
Digital oilfields: Integrated HMI/SCADA systems enable smarter data acquisition; Real-world impact of simulation; Electric actuator technology prospers in production fields
Special report: U.S. natural gas; LNG transport technologies evolve to meet market demand; Understanding new methane regulations; Predictive maintenance for gas pipeline compressors
Warehouse winter comfort: The HTHV solution; Cooling with natural gas; Plastics industry booming
Managing automation upgrades, retrofits; Making technical, business sense; Ensuring network cyber security
Designing generator systems; Using online commissioning tools; Selective coordination best practices

Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
This article collection contains several articles on the vital role that compressed air plays in manufacturing plants.
This article collection contains several articles on the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and how it is transforming manufacturing.
click me