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Trio enters servodrive market with ‘lowest-cost’ 64-axis system

30 October, 2020

The UK-based motion control specialist, Trio Motion Technology, has entered the servodrive market for the first time with a drive and motor package that, it says, will make it faster and easier for OEMs to apply its high-performance Motion Coordinator motion controls. It adds that combined with its free Motion Perfect 5 software, it now offers the lowest cost-per-axis motion control for 64 axes.

The new DX4 servodrive is said to achieve fast, accurate positioning when used with the matching low-inertia MXL or medium-inertia MXM servomotors. The 200V AC servodrives deliver EtherCat update rates down to 125μs with a 350% overload capability for dynamic applications, as well as dual STO (SIL3, PLe) safety functions. They cover the power range 50W to 3kW in three sizes (50–400W, 750W–1.5kW and 2–3kW), while the motors have a 23-bit absolute multi-turn capability for high positioning accuracy.

The servodrives are plug-and-play compatible with Trio’s controllers and slice I/O systems, and all are programmed using the same Motion Perfect 5 software, accelerating application development and commissioning for OEMs.

“When a customer wants a single system and supplier, we can now offer it,” says Trio product manager, David Greensmith. “It fundamentally changes who we are.”

The narrow drives (with widths of 38, 65 and 95mm) are said to have some of the smallest footprints available, with no stacking gap, saving space especially for higher axis counts. In keeping with Trio’s design principle of “everything you need and nothing more”, the compact sizes are achieved partly by implementing additional functions in the Motion Coordinators and I/O slices, rather than in larger, more complex drives. Avoiding unnecessary onboard functions such as keypads or expansion slots cuts costs, says Trio, especially for higher axis counts.

The Motion Coordinators use high-speed EtherCat communications, and can control up to 128 axes accurately. Trio’s Motion-iX technology core is based on a motion-first approach, and is capable of complex kinematics within a powerful application programming interface (API). The use of open communications means that the controllers can connect to automation systems via common Ethernet-based protocols. The Motion Coordinator range includes a “pocket-sized” 64-axis controller.

Plug-and-play functions instantly identify the drive and motor for easy configuration. Accurate motor performance is achieved quickly using adaptive autotuning and anti-resonance tools.

Trio's new servomotors and drives, with its 64-axis Flex-6 Nano Motion Coordinator (right)

Motion Perfect 5 supports PLCopen and the IEC 61131-3 programming languages, allowing users with any background to program installations. The Windows-based software includes a virtual oscilloscope for up to 32 channels, as well as a digital twin visualisation tool. Offline 3D simulation accelerates development by validating motion controls before they are deployed physically. This is particularly useful for controlling complex systems such as robots, and the software can program robots with up to six axes.

Extra functions can be added quickly to the scalable control system, if needed. Flexslice I/O modules covering a broad range of control functions click into place and are programmed via Motion Perfect 5.

Trio Motion was founded in 1987 to produce three-axis controllers. In 2017, it was acquired for £15.5m by the Chinese automation and robotics company, Estun, which has since doubled both Trio’s r&d budget and the size of its headquarters in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire. Estun, which has been expanding by about 40% per year, has recently started to use the Trio brand to market its automation products in China. Last year, it added the German welding robotics specialist Cloos to its portfolio.

Since it was acquired, Trio has been expanding by more than 15% a year. China was already a major market for Trio before the acquisition, and now accounts for about half of its business. Around 95% of Trio’s revenues come from sales outside the UK. The company employs around 120 people worldwide, more than a third of them in the UK. It has r&d facilities in the UK, Bulgaria and China, where its products are assembled.

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