ABB motion controllers give scanning company global access

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A company specialising in scanning systems is using ABB’s global presence to help it provide worldwide support for its product ranges. SmartDrive, based in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, uses ABB NextMove ES, NextMove e100 and NextMove ESB-2 motion controllers to control stepper motors that allow the accurate positioning and movement of digital scanners. These are used by the medical, museum and scientific sectors to give very detailed, high-resolution images of objects and artwork. The ability of the controllers and motors to provide accurate positioning and motion means the scanner can achieve flat, distortion free images of the scanned area, removing the image curvature that is an artefact of standard digital photography.

Most of SmartDrive’s scanning systems are bespoke, but the company is developing a range of standard products to achieve highly accurate scans of artwork and collections of museum artefacts, as well as controlling microscopes.

Dennis Murphy, Managing Director of SmartDrive, says: “For a number of years, we have produced bespoke scanning solutions for customers with a particular need for a special application. An example could be a high speed X-Y table for medical research. For this type of application, we would use a fast ABB motor matched to a gearbox. ABB is preferred because it offers a wide range of motors and drives that we can mix and match to suit the customer’s need.”

SmartDrive’s new standard range of scanning products includes SatScan. This is an imaging system which moves a scanner over works of art, surveying and gathering digital data to create ultra-high resolution images, offering very high levels of detail and clarity. SatScan Collections is used by museums and archives to capture high-resolution images of collections of objects such as insects, bones and man-made artefacts. SatScan Microscope allows microscope users to capture huge, in-focus digital images of entire slides or regions of interest.

Murphy says: “The standard SatScan range, based on the ABB NextMove controller, gives us stability, allowing us to offer standard ranges to meet a variety of customer needs in the museum, medical and scientific scanning markets. The degree of product support we offer is a question our customers ask constantly. Working with ABB products, we know our customers can get support and spares for the controller wherever they are in the world, which would not be the case if we sourced the controller from a purely UK or European based vendor.”

As well as the worldwide support, SmartDrive also values the flexibility of the ABB NextMove controller. “We can use the ABB NextMove to control either stepper or servo motors, allowing us to suit the technology to the application with the same controller. It also gives us the flexibility of two formats, either panel board or Eurocard, depending on what the customer needs.”

In Holland, at the centre of the Dutch government digitisation programme, The Collections units use the SatScan with ABB NextMove ES. Watch the video at, and go to for further information about motion controllers.

14 April 2014

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