Drive & Control Systems
Fully Integrated Systems
What exactly is drives, controls, and integration? A “Drive” is basically just electronics that allow a motor to be run at various speeds and motors are responsible for most of the motion in machinery. So, drives and motors allows us to control machinery, but not all drives and motors are created equally. Quality, performance, price, and support vary widely so it is important to know the best drives and motors to select for an application based on project priorities and the mechanical criteria.
“Controls” can typically be broken down into devices like sensors and actuators, PLC’s, HMI’s, and independent sub-systems.
- A PLC, or Programmable Logic Controller, is essentially an industrial computer with lots of ways to connect the aforementioned devices. PLCs are the brains of industrial machinery, reading all sorts of inputs and determining how to set outputs in order to control the equipment.
- An HMI, or Human Machine Interface, graphically displays information about the state of a machine and allows operators to change settings.
- An independent sub-system refers to a complete piece of equipment manufactured as a product and it may contain its own PLC, HMI, and/or devices. Edge guiders, static elimination equipment, and beta-gauges are examples of possible sub-systems.
“Integration” means to interconnect the various drives and controls so that they work together. For example, a static elimination system may have its own enable switch on a built in HMI. This means the operator needs to go around enabling all the static elimination devices before starting the machine. However, if the static equipment is integrated to the PLC, then the PLC can tell the static equipment to start whenever the rest of the machine is started. It’s important to note that there are various degrees of integration. In the static equipment example, the PLC can send an enable signal to the static devices. However, the PLC doesn’t know if the static equipment is faulted and gets no confirmation when the equipment turns on.
The term “Fully Integrated” implies that all of the drives and controls have been interconnected so that there is one central device in control of the entire machine, and the degree of integration is such that all necessary functions for control and status have been included. In other words, fully integrated means there is one place from which to control everything. Since there is a vast selection to choose from when considering PLCs, HMIs, and industry sub-systems, integration can get complicated, so in addition to price and performance, it is also important to consider the ease of configuration and inter-connectivity.
Here at New Era we believe that well-designed, purpose-built machinery demands well-designed, purpose-built drive and control systems. This carefully engineered integration of the drives and controls ensures that the equipment New Era produces will have high levels of safety, reliability, and process quality. In order to achieve this, New Era maintains an in-house Drive and Controls Department that is capable of handling all of our projects as well as supporting our installed base of equipment in the field. This allows New Era to provide a superior customer experience not only for new equipment purchases, but also for the entire service lifetime of the machinery. Having our own Drive and Controls department also allows New Era to form stronger partnerships with industry suppliers such as Rockwell and Siemens, further enhancing our engineering and support capabilities.
New Era’s in-house Drive and Controls department will provide you with a custom engineered control system for your equipment line. Our staff has vast experience working with most drive equipment and PLC suppliers. Additionally, our understanding of the equipment and close involvement with the mechanical design make for a truly seamless integration.