Integrated programming environment includes drive programming software

The most significant improvement to drive programming is the move to centralized programming platforms that cover an entire automated system rather than learning separate programming software only for drive programming.


Beckhoff Automation drives include AX5203, AX5118, and AX5125, all with connectivity to the EtherCAT industrial Ethernet protocol. Courtesy: Beckhoff AutomationPerhaps the most significant improvement to drive programming is the move to centralized programming platforms that cover an entire automated system over software packages that are dedicated to drive programming. With this modern approach, engineers can program programmable logic controllers (PLCs), I/O devices, motion control, and drive functionality in one place with one software platform. This can greatly reduce costs because users reduce the number of software packages they must purchase, license, and learn. Savings also extend to engineers with decreased programming time and training requirements.

The benefits here aren’t just related to the programming and software, but also to the cumbersome cables still required by some dedicated drive programming environments. A centralized automation programming platform that uses standardized hardware components, such as Ethernet-enabled drives, can eliminate special adapters and cables for programming and configuring drives. Specialized equipment is still a common requirement with many drives on the market. These special cable components are not especially expensive, but they can cause massive headaches if a replacement cable or cable adapter is required in drive fault, machine-down situations.

TwinCAT software from Beckhoff Automation is an integrated programming environment for drive programming and other industrial devices. It works with multiple vendors’ hardware. Courtesy: Beckhoff AutomationOf course, centralized programming environments for drives and all other automation devices on a machine is not a new idea. The integrated programming approach has been around for over 15 years. However, many more machine builders and manufacturers are embracing this way of programming every year. Using a comprehensive PC-based software platform, users can program drives as one part of the overall automation system instead of having to program them individually with a separate software platform.

Some software automatically identifies devices on digital fieldbuses (such as the EtherCAT industrial Ethernet protocol), including servo drives from multiple vendors.

This adds another layer of time savings for engineers, which then translates into faster design times, more efficient commissioning, and faster time to market for machine builders and their customers. The all-in-one software platform permits the tuning of drives and other automation devices in the same system manager. The integrated software includes the possibility to program advanced motion functionality with specific libraries devoted to numerical control (NC), computer numerical control (CNC), drive safety, and additional areas. Significant drive programming efficiencies can be created for any kind of drive application from simple to complex.

For product details, read: Drive programming software is an integrated programming environment.

- Matt Lecheler is motion specialist at Beckhoff Automation; edited by Mark T. Hoske, content manager CFE Media, Control Engineering, Plant Engineering, and Consulting-Specifying Engineer,


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