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

    August 13, 2013, 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.

  • 8 Tips for Minimizing or Eliminating EMI Noise

    June 21, 2012, 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.

  • "Reflecting" on Inertia Ratios

    September 12, 2013, 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.

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

    September 11, 2013, 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?

  • New Food Safety Regulations: Preventative Controls Review Extended

    September 18, 2013, 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.

  • Why So Much Stainless Steel?

    September 20, 2013, 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.

  • 10 Approaches to Sanitary Design

    October 02, 2013, 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.

  • Cogging and Torque Ripple Questions

    October 10, 2013, 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.

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

    October 24, 2013, 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.

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

    November 19, 2013, 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.

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

    January 08, 2014, 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!

    January 17, 2014, 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.

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

    February 18, 2014, by Scott Evans

    Do you remember the 1966 movie Fantastic Voyage? What about Innerspace? Both of these movies feature stories about a small vessel working inside of the human body. At the time these movies seemed impossible because there were microscopic humans operating the ships. Of course now it is 2014 and surely you've heard of Arthroscopy. 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.

  • 5 Tips for a Successful Servo Crossover

    March 27, 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.

  • Three Unconventional Uses for HMI's

    April 10, 2014, 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.

  • Feedback Choices - Hall Effect Device (Part III)

    April 15, 2014, 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.

  • Cooperation Between Industry and University - An Update

    April 17, 2014, by Bob White

    This blog was originally posted back on June 18, 2012 - I wanted to update this with some new activities regarding our work with Universities since that date...

    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.

  • Brushless Motors in Interesting Places

    May 08, 2014, 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.


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

    May 09, 2014, 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.


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

    September 03, 2014, 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).

  • Applications Sizing - Part 1: Getting Started Sizing Servos

    December 09, 2014, 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. Over the next few months, we will continue this series with a variety of tidbits that will help you become more comfortable with the job of sizing a servo. In this post, we’ll start with the basics of good preparation.

  • Issues to Consider when Operating a Motor in a Vacuum

    December 07, 2015, by Hurley Gill

    Question: I need to operate a servo motor in a vacuum, what are some considerations?

    Answer: In a word? Outgassing. You might think that proper motor sizing is a big issue, it always is, however if you can't conform to the other process requirements, there is no point to attempting to size the motor. The biggest issue for any given motor selection to be run in a given vacuum for a specific process is the outgassing requirement, or rather, the avoidance of materials that would affect the process being performed and/or the life of the motor.

  • Don't be Caught Breaking Motors with Water!

    November 30, 2015, by Emily Blanchard

    I was going over some inventory the other day, and I ran across our old blog of 101 ways to brake your motor -episode 82. The author of that piece, Mike, was just having fun with the title and the number 82. But it dawned on me, that we might be due for another installment.

    Let me preface by saying that I am not an engineer. I do however read, on average, about 20 old and new industry articles a week, as well as the content that I share in training and on our social media pages. I have discovered several ways to break motors throughout the years. Some of them have some really great stories and I'll try to get their witnesses to write them down for future blog posts. I have, however, discovered one of the most boring ways to break a motor. And I guess I really discovered it as a child.

  • Collaborative Robots (Cobots) - Who Benefits?

    September 14, 2016, by Melanie Cavalieri

    Collaborative robots are designed to work safely with and next to their human counterparts. A subset of collaborative robotics has innovative safety techniques that completely eliminate the need for a safety barrier between the human and the robot. This enables a wide range of applications to deploy and benefit from this collaborative robot technology.

  • Motor Derating Due To High Ambient Temperatures

    January 12, 2017, by Hurley Gill

    How do I calculate a motor’s continuous torque when it is operating in an environment above its rated temperature? 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?

  • How to Calculate RMS Torque

    February 07, 2017, by Hurley Gill

    In our last Block and Tackle posting, we touched on operating a motor in a hotter ambient temperature. For this posting, we take a look at the Root Mean Square (RMS) Torque and why it is important. Typically an axes’ motion profile is broken up into multiple segments, each segment is found to require a specific torque for a specific amount of time to complete the desired motion. For example this can include torque required to accelerate, traverse (against an external force and/or friction), decelerate, and dwell. Each of these segments affects the amount of heating the motor experiences and thus the equivalent steady state continuous requirement utilized to select the correct motor.

  • Decentralized Control Systems to the Rescue

    April 14, 2017, by Bob White

    Less Cabling, Smaller Cabinet, Less Heat…More Flexibility! Less Cabling, Smaller controls cabinet, Less heat…wow, that’s all great stuff. I can achieve this all with a decentralized solution? Absolutely – and even more! Decentralized Control Architecture means shifting the motion control drives from the crowded cabinets, and moving them near to the motors – out on the machine where the action is. Immediately you can see that this can reduce the size of the controls cabinet, moving all of those drives out onto the machine – but how do I see these other advantages?

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

    July 20, 2017, by Bob White

    In our last blog related to decentralized drives, we indicated several key customer benefits tied to using this approach. First, you can reduce your cable costs significantly in machine configurations with lots of axes spread apart throughout the machine. Second, a reduction in cabinet space and cooling requirements since you’ve taken a number of heat producing elements (Servo drives) from the enclosure. Thirdly, you increase flexibility in design. In this blog entry, we will explore what is meant by flexibility and how this offers several advantages.

  • Evolution of the Robot - Hollywood vs Reality

    November 15, 2017, by Emily Blanchard

    A few years ago I watched the DARPA challenge. If you’re not familiar with the challenge, the idea was to build a robot that could drive a car, climb a ladder, turn a handle, use a drill and various other activities. In the challenge each robot was given an hour to complete the tasks. It was a slow process. I had two reasons to watch, one, Kollmorgen has some frameless motors in the Carnegie Mellon robot and two, I’m a Virginia Tech graduate and they also provided a robot.

  • Medicine in our Future - Medical Robots and other Technological Advances

    January 05, 2018, by Melanie Cavalieri

    On November 13, 2017 FDA approved a pill that can digitally track if a patient has taken their medication. The pill is called “Abilify MyCite” and is used to make sure that patients with conditions such as schizophrenia have actually ingested their medication. As news broke about this new tracking pill it rekindled both concern and excitement about technology in the field of medicine.

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