• New Food Safety Regulations: Preventative Controls Review Extended

    April 27, 2015, by Andy Hansbrough, P.E.

    Consumers expect safe food. The Feds expect a safe food supply chain-farm, processing, packaging, and distribution. As we all work to consistently meet consumer food safety expectations, the need to prevent and control food adulteration and/or contamination is present in every step of the supply chain. Our modern and globally expanding food and beverage processing and packaging industries have made and continue to make great strides in improving food safety by improving preventive, control, cleaning and sanitation methods.

  • Something is Missing...and other Linear Actuator Nightmares!

    September 05, 2014, by Michael Brown

    A specification will often state the required stroke for the application. What is frequently seen is that units are damaged by not following a simple requirement stated in the Installation Manual. Best practices dictate the utilization of End of Travel (EOT) sensors used with actuators and drives. This is done to prevent the actuators from striking the mechanical stops at each end, and typically a manual will clearly show where these sensors should be placed on the device. Actuators do have built in "bumpers" to help absorb energy when the mechanical stops are struck, but they are not designed to provide unlimited protection against repeated strikes.

  • Why Would Anyone Use a Linear Thermistor Over the Industry Standard Avalanche PTC/NTC Type Thermistor?

    October 03, 2014, by Hurley Gill

    There are challenges for a servo motor's protection against overheating by the manufacturer, machine designer/OEM, and user, because there is no thermal device that can protect a motor against a fast transient event. For just as there is a time lag between the final steady-state temp rise of a coil of wire with a given current going through it, there is a time lag for the thermal device to achieve its trip resistance once that trip/application temperature has been presented to the thermal device.

  • Cogging and Torque Ripple Questions

    July 18, 2014, by Hurley Gill

    Cogging and Torque Ripple questions are common and many times, difficult to answer.

    Cogging torque is defined as the attraction/interaction of the magnetic poles to the teeth (steel structure) of the laminations within an un-energized motor.

    Torque ripple is defined as the variance of the torque of the energized motor with a constant current. They are related in position independent of magnitude or direction, but cogging torque is generally not presented as a specification for servo motors.

  • "Reflecting" on Inertia Ratios

    August 29, 2014, by Gordon Ritchie

    When a load is driven directly by the motor, the conversation around reflected inertia goes out the window. The belief is that direct driven loads do not, by their nature, have a reflected inertia. Some folks are even confident enough to say that the ratio of the load inertia to the motor inertia does not need to be taken into account when direct driving the load as long as you have enough torque and speed. I have never had enough confidence to make such a statement.

  • Why So Much Stainless Steel?

    May 26, 2014, by Gene Matthews

    Washdown applications can be quite the tough environment. In the first place, typically you’ll find washdown requirements on machines that process foods. You know how careful you are when cooking at home, making sure you wash your hands after touching raw meat. Keeping cooked meat away from the surfaces you had raw meat sitting, or washing the utensils you use to handle raw meat is common in the kitchen.

  • 8 Tips for Minimizing or Eliminating EMI Noise

    February 19, 2016, by Bob White

    Noise, and I'm not talking about that terrible band you heard at the summer fest last year, but electromagnetic interference (EMI) noise. There are 8 key steps to consider when trying to eliminate EMI noise issues. If you follow these guidelines, you are much less likely to have problems with electrical noise in your application.

  • 5 Tips for a Successful Servo Crossover

    October 24, 2014, by Josh Bellefeuille

    There are a number of situations that call for crossing over and replacing an existing motor with a newer servo. These can include: product obsolescence, cost savings, lead time issues, or upgrading to newer technology. The specifics of each application could lead to an endless number of important factors to consider. In this post I will try to (briefly) identify those that are most common and their correct order of concern.

  • Brushless Motors in Interesting Places

    April 02, 2015, by Bob White

    Today’s blog is part of a Throw Back Thursday post – about an article I wrote for SubNotes magazine back in 1988. At the time we had completed a number of submersible motor applications for some very unique and tough environments. Applications with interesting names like Alvin, Jason Jr, or Robin – the first, a manned research vehicle at the time operated by Woodshole Oceanographic Institute, the other two, remotely operated submersibles used to explore the wreck of the Titanic, among other adventures.


  • Three Unconventional Uses for HMI's

    April 17, 2015, by Reid Hunt

    Most machine builders are familiar with modern touch screen HMI's. They have all but replaced older style toggle switch panels. It has also enabled machine builders give operators much more information on the process going on in a machine. HMI's can look at a multitude of machine variables and they can be presented in a more relatable graphical format than digital readout or analog meters. For instance, instead of a tank volume number, you visually show the operator much fluid is in the tank. HMI's however can go even beyond these operator related touch-screen graphics. Some of the more sophisticated features can really benefit machine builders and end-users of machines. Here are a few capabilities you might not have known about modern HMI's.

  • Get More for Your Money - Electric over Hydraulic in Oil and Gas

    October 28, 2015, by Tom S Wood

    A key driver for the current trends towards increasing use of electric motors in oil and gas applications is the ability of electrically driven systems to substantially improve system reliability, reduce downtime, and the limit the possibility of a leaked fluid discharge into the environment. Designers of oil and gas equipment are looking for the smallest, lightest, simplest solution with the least impact on the environment. While the best solution will be different for every application, it’s clear that the trend in the industry is favoring electric motors.

  • Feedback Choices - Hall Effect Device (Part III)

    December 04, 2015, by Bob White

    Among the simplest and least expensive feedback devices are Hall-effect sensors. These are digital on-off devices that detect the presence of magnetic fields. Made of semiconductor material, they are rugged, can be operated at very high frequencies (equating to tens of thousands of motor rpm), and are commonly used to provide six-step commutation of brushless motors.

  • 10 Approaches to Sanitary Design

    December 11, 2015, by Andy Hansbrough, P.E.

    The American Meat Institute generated a Fact Sheet related to Sanitary Equipment Design in 2008 which helps the OEM Machine builder to design sanitary solutions for the Food Processing and packaging market. Our blog post looks at the 10 sanitary design principles recommended by the AMI and how automation system design plays an important role.

  • Cooperation Between Industry and University - An Update

    January 22, 2016, by Bob White

    There has been a long standing cooperation between Industry and Academics throughout the recent centuries. Just look at the companies that pop up near Universities - like the Route 128 corridor near MIT, or Silicon Valley's influence by Stanford, UCB and UCSF. Every major research university houses a "technology park" filled with start-ups incubating their new ideas and inventions. But it's not just the entrepreneurs that latch on to collaboration with academics. Established firms also find it beneficial to work with universities on various projects of interest, especially where an emerging industry may be getting ready to take off.

  • Incredible Voyage - Using Tried-and-True Servo Technology

    February 05, 2016, by Scott Evans

    In my last blog post, I discussed drive-by-wire in a car. Essentially, the mechanical linkage between you and the steering wheel clutched in your white-knuckled fists is going away-replaced by sensors on the steering wheel that tell an actuator motor which way, how hard, and how far to turn the car's wheels based on how far and how hard you are turning the steering wheel. Let's turn the concept inside out now. Suppose instead of wheels, a machine was holding surgical needle and thread. Or a camera. Or a scalpel. Or a stent.

  • Eccentricity, Wobble, and How a Servo System Can Help

    March 11, 2016, by Application Team India

    By definition, Eccentricity is a measure of how much a roll deviates from being perfectly circular. Ideally, eccentricity should be zero, but in reality, it is never zero. Practically not a single roll is a perfect circle because it is produced using a machine which itself is prone to some machining errors (since it is product of some other machine and so on).

  • Eliminate Unsightly "Bars" Across your Substrate with Direct Drive Technology

    March 25, 2016, by Tom England

    Coating and lamination applications demand precise speed regulation in order to avoid velocity ripple that causes uneven coating and undesirable horizontal bars across the substrate. The key to achieving the most uniform coating is minimizing the variations in velocity as well as in metering of the coating material.

  • Stop Paying the Cable Companies!

    April 09, 2016, by Reid Hunt

    Machine builders focus on functionality and reliability when first designing a new machine. Ideas are put on paper and components are strung together in block diagrams with thin lines to show the association of all the pieces. It is the most creative time in the cycle. Things can be moved and shifted with ease because everything is on a whiteboard. Even if you are far enough in the cycle to work in a CAD model, changes require no physical effort and the task of putting it together is still just an idea.

  • 101 Ways to “BRAKE” Your Servo Motor – Episode 82

    April 29, 2016, by Michael Brown

    Frequently, servo motors are returned where the brakes are worn. This is almost always due to the brake being applied repeatedly while the motor/load is moving. The application of a motor brake in a "dynamic / moving" scenario will result in dramatic wear of the brake mechanism.

  • There are 8 of Them and They Both Begin With "H"

    May 13, 2016, by Emily Blanchard

    What is a laughable offense to the public is a representation of the hidden challenges behind packaging and automation. Sure, the package was mostly correct, it contained 8 buns, they were pre-sliced, and odds are pretty good that the two products weigh the same. The package is at least see-through, so as a consumer, you still know what you're buying. But what if it was a bottle of 50mg heart medication that actually contained tablets of 100mg medication?

  • Don't be Caught Breaking Motors with Water!

    December 09, 2016, by Emily Blanchard

    I have discovered several ways to break motors. Some of them have some really great stories and I'll try to get their witnesses to write them down.

  • Issues to Consider when Operating a Motor in a Vacuum

    March 31, 2017, by Hurley Gill

    Question: Operating a servo motor in a vacuum, what are some considerations?

  • Applications Sizing - Part 1: Getting Started Sizing Servos

    April 14, 2017, by Bob White

    Never sized a servo before? Well, we want to share with you some of the best practices we have found over the years tol help you become more comfortable with it.

  • Motor Derating Due To High Ambient Temperatures

    May 26, 2017, by Hurley Gill

    Since the motor’s continuous torque (Tc) is rated in a 40°C ambient, how can I estimate the motor’s continuous torque during my worst-case ambient temperature of 55°C?

  • Collaborative Robots (Cobots) - Who Benefits?

    June 09, 2017, by Melanie Cavalieri

    Collaborative robots are robots designed to work safely with and next to their human counterparts.

  • Decentralized Control Systems to the Rescue

    August 04, 2017, by Bob White

    Less Cabling, Smaller Cabinet, Less Heat equals more Flexibility!

  • How to Calculate RMS Torque

    February 07, 2017, by Hurley Gill

    Question: How do I calculate RMS Torque for a given axis motion profile in my application?

  • Decentralized Drive Solutions Offer Flexibility - As Simple as Plug and Play

    November 03, 2017, by Bob White

    In this blog entry we will explore what is meant by flexibility and how this offers several advantages.