A new machine, developed by Alliance Winding for Baldor, automates virtually the entire motor manufacturing process from coil winding and welding stator laminations, to assembly, test and fitting of outer product packaging. And it’s fast too. It’s capable of producing finished assemblies every 20 seconds.
Representing an investment of $4 million, the machine allows Baldor to produce custom motors in very small batches. The only human intervention required is to replenish materials, and to attach the connection leads.
Apart from this, production is entirely automated, with motors progressing from manufacturing cell to cell along a conveyor for the various stages of build.
In all, 78 axes of motion and over 200 motors were required on the machine to automate the manufacturing processes. Baldor Mint motion controllers were chosen for the underlying real-time control capability required to implement this application. These controllers allowed Alliance Winding to divide the complex motion control system down into loosely-coupled, semi-autonomous sub-systems which control the functions performed at each stages, initiating actions in response to I/O events, under the supervisory control of a host PC running a Visual Basic user interface.
This distributed architecture was made possible by the ability of Baldor’s NextMove PCIbus cards to store and execute embedded motion control programs locally, using the interpreter-style capability of the Mint embedded system. The card’s onboard analog and digital I/O was also critical to control the servo motor axes that manage the core manufacturing cell functions such as coil winding; the control loops all rely on fast I/O processing to sense and react to events.
‘The high level keywords and the macro facilities of the Mint language helped to speed implementation of the motion control system on this ambitious project’, notes Barb Smith, systems integrator with Alliance Winding. ‘We devised a number of macros which condense sophisticated operations into friendly single commands – helping to reduce the complexity of the control problem, by simplifying coding, debug and optimisation.’
In total, eight types of cells are used in this application: ‘shed’ winders for creating the wire coils on forms (there are six on the machine), plus stations for welding stator laminations, inserting the coils into the laminations, lead placement (manually performed), lead crimping, continuity testing, wire bonding, and fitting outer product shell.
‘We have eliminated virtually all of the manual operations required for producing electric motors and allowing custom products to be built without missing a beat,’ says Pete Morreale of Alliance Winding.