ServoWire drive network puts servos on FireWire

Industrial Robot

ISSN: 0143-991x

Article publication date: 1 February 2000




(2000), "ServoWire drive network puts servos on FireWire", Industrial Robot, Vol. 27 No. 1.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited

ServoWire drive network puts servos on FireWire

ServoWire drive network puts servos on FireWire

Keywords: Technology, Motors

A new digital servo-drive network that operates at 200 megabits per second (Mbs) has been launched in the UK by Motor Technology of Stockport. Developed for motion-control applications by US-based Ormec, ServoWire utilises open standard IEEE-1394 that was originally designed by Apple Computers and known as FireWire.

ServoWire provides high-speed, real-time communication for up to eight servo drives and motors controlled by a single module. Network bandwidth is allocated for each servo using isochronous transfers that are unique to IEEE-1394. This guarantees the timely transmission of torque commands, positional feedback, and high-speed I/O status during each loop update with rates of 2kHz for eight axis and 4kHz for four. The ServoWire network has additional bandwidth to simultaneously process communications including high-speed sensors and programmable limit switches along with asynchronous program requests.

The true plug-and-play technology provided by IEEE-1394 simplifies the set-up and commissioning of devices on the network as new drives are easily installed without having to configure the new unit off-line. User operation is further simplified as digital communications allow drive parameters to be set by software, rather than potentiometers. and set-up parameters are delivered automatically from the motion controller at start-up (see Plate 1).

The new technology is also future-proof with industry-wide support from major players such as: Apple Computers, Microsoft, IBM, Intel, Texas Instruments, Sony, Toshiba, Philips and many others. What is more, further development is continuing at a rapid pace. The next development of 1394 will enable transfer rates of up to 400Mbs and Texas instruments have already demonstrated the possibility of 1.6Gbps (gigabits per second) using standard copper cable. The low cost of 1394 will continue to assure its long-term place in the market and as the technology develops prices are set to fall even further.

Plate 1ServoWire provides high-speed, real-time communication for up to eight servo drives and motors controlled by a single module

Industries likely to benefit most from high speed I/O and motion control will include line-oriented repetitive manufacturing processes commonly found in: packaging, converting, Web handling, printing and registration applications.

For further information contact Andrew Fallows, Motor Technology (UK) Ltd, Motec House, Chadkirk Industrial Estate, Romiley, Stockport, Cheshire SK6 3LE. Tel: (+44) 0161 427 3641; Fax: (+44) 0161 427 1306; E-mail:

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