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Motor controllers: options for modification and customisation

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Amir Janjua, Technical Engineer at maxon motor UK & Ireland, outlines the options that are available for customers wanting a modified or custom motor controller.

Motor controllers: options for modification and customisationIn addition to offering a range of standard motor controllers, maxon also has a lot of experience in modifying and customising controllers to meet specific application requirements.

The current maxon catalogue range consists predominantly of the ESCON (Easy Speed Controller) and EPOS4 (Easy Positioning System), along with their variants EPOS2, EPOS2P and MAXPOS. The ESCON is a speed and current controller offering simple functionality via the use of analogue and digital inputs, and the EPOS range is a CANopen slave that operates as part of a communication bus system and requires control via a master.

Modification

If these off-the-shelf options are not suitable for the application, perhaps due to a hardware or firmware issue, they can either be modified or a custom controller can be designed.

maxon can offer simple modifications to standard catalogue parts. The following are examples of simple modifications:

  • Pre-configuration: maxon can pre-configure your drive to the required parameters, allowing the controller to essentially become a plug-and-play unit. Less time would be required on the users end in terms of setting up the controller to configure the parameters and then connecting to the final drive.
  • Firmware modifications: Simple features can be added to the firmware of the controllers enabling them to meet the applications needs. This is applicable to both the ESCON and EPOS ranges.
  • PCB coating: A conformal coating can be applied so the PCB and controller can operate reliably in extreme conditions outside the catalogue value.

In terms of the procedure of implementing a modification, a simple firmware update is required usually, and testing is executed and documented if required.

The extent to which maxon can modify existing products may be suitable for your application; however, if not, maxon offers custom options to suit.

Customisation

A customised option is typically derived from an existing product from the catalogue. maxon can develop the necessary equipment required to produce the custom parts and complete the appropriate testing/simulations and provide relevant documentation to support its suitability and functionality.

Custom units are bespoke to the customer and the design; this means the drive can be optimised to every detail to ensure it is suitable for its purpose. Customisation can be offered for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Cost optimisation for high-volume production: maxon can determine your requirements to ensure the cost of production can be minimised while the product is fit for purpose.
  • Additional hardware/firmware functionality: Additional functionality can be implemented with regards to both firmware and hardware.
  • Dimensional modification to fit space envelope.
  • Demanding environment: Material modifications can be made to suit extreme conditions.

Typically, the procedure of developing a customised controller is more thorough and more work is required, hence lead times can be longer; the following is a brief overview of what is required when designing a customised controller:

  • Preparation and approval of specification
  • Hardware and firmware development
  • Prototype testing and approval
  • Preparation of production and test documents
  • Initialisation of production

Integrated drive systems

maxon motor produces DC motors, gearheads, sensors, controllers and accessories. With this in mind, the company can produce a complete integrated system that can be plugged straight into the final system. Offering an integrated system has many benefits, such as saving time from in-house assembly and having numerous suppliers. Having one supplier for the majority of components is efficient in terms of cost, time and traceability.

In the maxon catalogue, you can find motors with integrated electronics; however, if these do not have the required functionality, maxon can look into offering a bespoke system comprising a motor, a controller with necessary electronics and also a gearbox with any additional drive elements.

Learn more about modified and customised motor controllers at www.maxonmotor.co.uk.

 
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