Episode #32: Can I Mix And Match Drives And Motors From Different Manufacturers?

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The Motion Control Show

In our last episode we talked about mixing and matching products from different suppliers and manufacturers.  This time we're going to talk more specifically about mixing and matching the motors and drives.  I'm Corey Foster at Valin Corporation.  Let's see what we can learn.

First off, remember that as a distributor we are your supplier. Manufacturers only talk about compatibility within their products (which isn’t 100% true…they just prefer it that way), but we suppliers, we distributors, will talk about mixing and matching motors and drives more often than the manufacturers will.  That being said, we still like to try to stay with one manufacturer, but we know when we can and when we shouldn't mix and match the products.  Remember, what is more important to you, your time or your money?  I asked that question last episode and it's always a question I ask customers so I can get their priorities and what's more important as far as how long the project goes, or how much engineering time they have versus monetary investment.

Let's take a quick look at the overview of the technology involved here.  OK, so we have a motor, we’d take an amplifier or a drive and we're putting power into that motor.  That gets a command signal from a PLC or controller or somewhere else.  Then we have feedback, maybe, on the motor if it were doing closed loop, and that feedback goes back to the electronics which gives information to the drive and that may be in the drive itself. 

The amplifier, or the drive, is powered, so there's a couple of different things right off the bat here.  There's the drive/motor technology, whether there's feedback and what kind of technology that is.  Then there's the power requirements, making sure that there's enough power in the drive to power the motor.  There's one other thing here that people often times don't think about, and that's commutation.  That's for servos in particular.

Let's take a little bit of a closer look at each one of those and the variations that we have to think about.  The motor and drive technology could be servo, stepper, or VFDs.  With servos, there's brushed and there's brushless.  With steppers, there's two-phase or five-phase.  And then with power level we have to look at the current output from the drive and we have to look at the voltage.  This is the bus voltage to the drive.  A 24-volt drive is going to have a hard time powering a big motor.  Vice versa, a small motor should not be powered by a drive that takes in 480 volts AC, so we have to take that into account.  Then there's the feedback technology. Whether it's an encoder or resolver, whether it's incremental or absolute, and if you're using absolute, what kind of communication is it?  Is it SSI, ENDAT, SinCos, BISS-C, etc.?  There's more than that.  And then there's the commutation, which is specifically for the servos, even though steppers do actually commutate, but you don't have to worry about that really.  But there's the commutation for the servos and is that done via resolver, through Hall Effects, or through Wake & Wiggle?  Then just knowing how it's going to commutate isn’t enough.  If you're taking one manufacturer’s drive and trying to power another manufacturer’s motor, you have to align the commutation.  You have to figure out how to make those phase angles work together.

I'm Corey Foster at Valin Corporation, I hope this helps.  Reach out to us to this email address here.  Reach out to us at our website and we’ll see what we can do to help you out.
If you have any questions or are just looking for some help, we're happy to discuss your application with you.  Reach out to us at (855) 737-4716 or fill out our online form.