Thanks to advancements in modern technology, automating manufacturing processes for greater efficiency and product quality is now within reach for most companies, rather than simply confined to just the big players. One particular way of automating these work processes is the use of motion control solutions. They are a common element in process automation, but not many understand their critical role in today’s industrial. Here we take a look at their mechanics and some of their popular applications.
What is a Motion Control System?
Simply put, a motion control system is a series of components that provides locomotion to a specific object in one or various directions, as desired. In the concept of manufacturing, the load can either be raw material that’s undergoing processing or a tool that does the actual processing.
Motion control systems are used in the automation of work processes that require repeated and precise positioning of a load. As such, motion control systems are popular in the manufacturing industry. It is also common to see this particular automation solution in hospitals and laboratories where repeatable, precise positioning is required in the examination of biological samples or specimens.
How Does a Motion Control System Actually Work?
A motion control system is able to perform its work thanks to a series of motion stages stacked or connected to each other. The motion stages, powered by miniaturized but powerful and highlyprecise motors, position the load in one specific direction.
There are two types of motion stages: a linear stage and a rotation stage. A linear stage provides movement in a straight line, while a rotation stage provides movement in a partial or full circular rotation.
By stacking stages of different types, a motion control system can combine their motion for increased range or complexity of movement, such as allowing a load to rotate a full 360 degrees or moving the load up and down as well as forward and back.
The movement of the stages can be controlled manually through control knobs or automated with computer programming, the latter being more common when one wants to achieve full work automation.
Why Use Motion Control Systems?
As earlier mentioned, a motion control system helps automate work processes that require repetitive and precise positioning of a load. While the same kind of work can be done with a human worker, the repetitive nature of the process itself can result in worker fatigue, which can then result in a variance in product quality or even quality issues. A gap between the skill and experience between workers in the performance of such a task can also cause quality issues in the final product.
Using a motion control system removes those factors from the work process. In doing so the work process itself becomes more efficient and capable of producing results with consistent and higher product quality.
Where are Motion Control Systems used?
Motion control systems are used in industries that require repeatable and precise positioning, such as inmanufacturing, medicine, and scientific research. Some examples of how they are used in these industries are as follows:
- Microscope focusing. Linear stages are used to help focus microscopes onto specimens and samples automatically and more precisely.
- Motion control stages allow for precise and automated positioning of laser machining tools, resulting in faster production with a minimized error rate.
- Many industrial products, especially those related to electronics, involves the assembly of a finished product using tiny and delicate components. Motion control stages allow for quick, reliable, and repeatable assembly of such products.
Motion control systems may be simple in concept, but their simplicity is what makes them effective. By automating tasks using motion control systems, various industries can improve their turnaround times and product quality, even as they ease the load for human workers.