Drives and Controls Magazine
Flexible servodrives can be used ‘in almost any application’
Published:  03 December, 2014

ABB has announced a three-phase AC servodrive platform that can be used – without needing any extra hardware – in almost any application, from centralised control to intelligent stand-alone motion systems. The flexible MotiFlex e180 drives are suitable for high-power and continuous machinery and motion control applications using a variety of communications and motor feedback technologies.

The drives are are optimised for rotary and linear servomotor control, as well as for AC motors in closed-loop vector or V/Hz operation. At the heart of their wide-ranging integration capabilities are their flexible real-time Ethernet compatibility and feedback interfaces, built-in functional safety, and the ability to use them in many different control system architectures.

The drives can even be configured using different continuous/peak power output modes to optimise them for applications with a variety of precision, dynamic performance and duty cycle requirements.

The MotiFlex e180 design builds on the earlier three-phase Ethernet Powerlink-compatible e100 drive range, and offers a flexible upgrade path. The nine new drives offer continuous power outputs up to 90A, and peak outputs up to 120A. Four different continuous/peak output level and time combinations can be selected for each of the nine power levels.

The drives can be software-configured for EtherCat, Modbus TCP, Ethernet/IP or Powerlink-based systems, with more options in development. They also support many different forms of feedback including incremental and digital absolute encoders, resolvers and the new Hiperface DSL encoders that combine motor power and feedback in one cable.

Safety is built in and the drives offer dual-channel support for safe torque-off (STO), conforming to PL e / SIL3. Built-in I/O includes six digital inputs, two fast latch inputs, four digital outputs, two analogue inputs and an analogue output, a high-power relay output, and a PTC sensor for motor thermal protection.

ABB's new servodrives are suitable for a wide variety of applications

The software-selectable Ethernet communications makes it easy to build systems using PLCs from any vendor. Alternatively, the drives’ intelligence can be used in decentralised architectures, performing profiling on the drive and reducing the load on the central controller. Unusually for this kind of architecture, the generic drive interface can be customised, making it easy for machinery OEMs to create application-specific functions.

As well as working with centralised PLC or PC controllers, the drive can be used with ABB’s own embedded machinery controllers and a new high-performance addition to its AC500 PLC range. 

The MotiFlex drives can also be used as intelligent motion controllers in process automation applications or distributed systems – again, without any extra hardware. The drives’ extensive built-in I/O makes it easy for developers to create economic stand-alone systems, while ABB's Mint language can be used to perform sophisticated motion control tasks.

“MotiFlex e180 offers OEMs and automation engineers a drive range that is almost limitless in its applications potential,” says ABB product manager, Jari Suntila. “It can be configured in so many different ways, for different control architectures, feedback schemes and communications networks – that it really represents a universal platform for high-power applications. The integrated flexibility is also provided with great economy, thanks to an intense focus during the design phase on modularity and design for manufacturing.”