Modern motion control systems incorporate sophisticated motor control algorithms, with some systems even including limited PLC type functions. These are generally configured using a portable computer connected by a serial link. This is no problem where a system only performs a single repeated task, or where several tasks can be selected using the inputs built into the motion controller. The system can be configured and the portable PC removed Whilst motor speed can usually be selected by external contacts, adjustments to acceleration times or to the indexing distance for positioning systems, generally require connection of the portable computer. This can be a major problem when frequent changes are required due to short product runs. Such systems can be complicated to implement and difficult for the operator to use. Quercus Computer Systems has developed a number of intelligent front-ends for such systems. These have used a small real-time control computer to act as intermediary between the operator and the motion control system; thus providing an interface customised to the particular application, with safe limits imposed on the allowed motion parameters. As well as providing a clear and informative operator interface for the setting of control parameters, using a text or a graphical display screen, it can also provide unambiguous interpretation of error messages from the controller. A recent system supervised a number of bobbin winding stations using a multi-drop serial link.

Front-End for Motion Control System.

Such a front-end can also perform ancillary control functions and can interact with existing PLCs thus providing an extremely cost effective, overall system, which is easy to use.. Other applications have acted as a translator between the communication protocols used by equipment from different manufactures.