No Motor is an Island

(with appologies to John Donne)

No motor has value unless it’s in an application. The same is true of a motor/ controller drive system. Yet, as even the smallest of drives gets smarter their flexibility to contribute to the overall performance of the application has not kept pace.

Deep down, the drive is performing the basic energy conversion function of converting electrical energy to motion. It’s constantly aware of the torque demanded by the load, the speed of the motor, the parameters of its power source, and perhaps even an environmental parameter or two like temperature. All of this information can be immensly valuable to the application but on all but the most expensive of drives, it is unavailable.

Let’s look at agricultural ventalation for example. Airborne pathogenes can spred quickly in an area from farm to farm, sometimes decimating whole heards. One technique for combatting this is to turn the barn into a biosecure facility by maintaining a presure differential between inside and outside and passing all internal air through filters. For a variety of reasons, it’s more practical to maintain a negative internal pressure making the large ventilator fans a critical system component. Telemetry from the fans would close the loop

The reason is clear. Despite the fact that making this information available outside of the drive is primarilly a software issue with little or no hardware or recurring cost adder, software development is not free. All too often I’ve seen an orginization try to provide internal drive data, only to get bogged down at the interface, determine they can’t recoup the development costs, and give up. Or, worse yet, develop a proprietary interface only to have a big customer come along and want something different.

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