7 Things You Need to Know About the Motion Control Industry

By Allied Motion | Jul 28, 2017

Put simply, motion control encompasses systems that involve moving parts in a controlled manner. It contains a variety of applications and can be found in many industries ranging from medical to commercial, aerospace and beyond. Because motion control includes every technology related to the movement of objects, though, it can get a bit confusing to follow.

To help you grasp the full potential of the industry, we broke down seven things you need to know about motion control.

1. It fuels the medical industry. 

The medical industry demands precise control of its applications. From surgical robotics to prosthetics and even consumer CPAP machines, motion control solutions can be found in:

        Bionic prosthetics: Allied Motion worked with a customer to incorporate 17 different motors (PerformeX and Megaflux) in the joints and fingers of a bionic prosthetic arm -- giving it the size, weight and strength of a human arm.

        All-terrain wheelchairs: The Trackchair, an all-terrain wheelchair developed to enable wheelchair-bound people to go places not previously possible for wheelchair users. It’s powered by RAD36 series right-angle DC gearmotors, enabling it to safely carry up to a 350-pound person while negotiating inclines, depressions, debris and other off-road obstacles and conditions.

        Respirator air pumps: Reliability and low audible noise are very important criteria to respirator manufacturers. A small, low-noise, power-efficient respiratory blower is required for such ventilators. Allied engineers developed the ResMax 28 brushless DC motor specifically for medical respirators for intensive care and emergency equipment.

2. Motion control encompasses a variety of products.

Because motion control fuels many applications across many different industries, it incorporates a variety of different products. Motors, for example, power virtually every motion control application. They can include anything from permanent-magnet brush DC motors to brushless and DC gear motors, brushless servo motors and more.

Drives, on the other hand, are essential for controlling brushless motors. And, they are used in many instances to control DC brush motors. Examples of DC-powered drive applications are found in mobile electric vehicles such as medical mobility equipment, utility and warehouse carts, AGVs and other robotic material handling equipment. AC-powered drives are most often found in applications like industrial robots and machine tools.

There are also gearboxes used to trade motor speed for load torque, and feedback devices that provide information to motion controllers of a motor's speed and/or position. Encoders are the most pervasive type of feedback device in use today in motion control.

3. Motion control enables robots.

In an increasingly digital world, more and more applications are becoming automated through the use of automation involving robots of various kinds. Motion control technology is essential to robots. A few examples of the use of robotics in industry are:

        Warehouse handling: Material movement in factories and warehouses is becoming easier and safer with the advent of robotic material handling carts. Allied’s engineers developed several wheel drive systems used for both primary drive in AGVs and for power assist service in pushers, tuggers and material handling carts.

        Surgical robotics: Surgical robot systems require compact, precision medical motors and frameless torque motors to power their arms and end-effectors (tools). Surgical robotics have improved diagnostic abilities and enabled less invasive and more comfortable patient experiences and smaller, more precise interventions.

        Postal Service handling: The U.S. Postal Service processes over a billion packages a year, and virtually every one is sorted and sent on its way using Allied’s motors and gear motors.

4. The average consumer uses motion control daily.

While it may be obvious motion control is used in industrial settings, many people don’t realize how prominent it is in our day-to-day lives. Motors and gear motors can be found hard at work powering much of the equipment we rely upon each day to make our lives better.

Motion control can be found everywhere - from the DC gear motors that operate train doors to the gear motors that move grocery cart round-up units at places such as Walmart. Similarly, motors and motion control are at work in residential stair lifts and commercial escalators and elevators.

5. It powers aerospace and defense.

Military and aerospace applications require devices that can withstand rigorous environments. Mil-aero-qualified motion control components are found in:

        Mobile weapons systems: The CROWS (Common Remote Operated Weapons Station) weapons turret, powered by Megaflux torque motors, allows a gunner to remain protected inside his vehicle while accurately operating a computer-stabilized, laser-aimed weapon.

        Pilot cooling system pump: Military helicopter pilots can be equipped with special flight suits that incorporate microclimate cooling.

        Aircraft emergency fuel system: Many small propeller-driven aircraft benefit from a two-speed pump that maintains fuel pressure while cruising, and boosts fuel delivery for takeoff and landing.

6.  The motion control industry isn't new.

Although today’s models are much more sophisticated, motion control has been around for centuries. In fact, it’s believed by many that Andrew Gordon, a Scottish physicist, invented the first electric motor (a simple electrostatic device) in the 1740s.

A century later, in 1821, the English scientist Michael Faraday demonstrated the conversion of electric energy into mechanical energy. Then, in 1828, Hungarian physicist Ányos Jedlik demonstrated the first device to contain the three main components of practical DC motors: the stator, rotor and commutator.

7. Motion control resources are available.

There are many ways industry experts can stay up to date on motion control trends. The Motion Control and Motor Association, for example, was developed to advance the global understanding and use of motion control and related automation technologies. The MCMA has various online tools such as blogs, case studies and other resources. Additionally, the group offers events, educational opportunities and certification programs for people in the industry as well as those interested in motion control.

Design World, an engineering trade magazine, also has an online resource for motion control tips. The site highlights motion control news, editors’ blogs, FAQs and more.

Find your motion control solution.

Do you want to learn more about the motion control industry? Are you in the market for motion control solutions? We’d love to hear from you. Contact us online, connect with us on Facebook or tweet us at @AlliedMotion1.

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