High Speed Data Bus for Motion Control
ASIC extends high speed bus capability across product range
Technologies used

Digital ASIC

Industrial sector (PRODCOM code)
    333 Industrial Process Control Equipment
High speed serial data bus for Motion Control

Digiplan, formed in 1969 as Digiplan Ltd. and later acquired by Parker Hannifin plc, has over 100 staff employed at Poole, England, in the design and manufacture of motion control products for the industrial automation market e.g. factory automation, pick and place, textile and handling machines. These products are sold direct to OEMs and via specialist distributors. Products include : low power stepper and servo drives, servo motors, motion controllers, PC software and power supplies. A typical system might consist of a controller together with one or more drives and motors that would control the operation of a automatic lathe. Design of products using analogue, power, digital, micro-electronics and software is handled by a team of 9 electronic engineers. The Prodcom sector, Industrial Process Control, is 3330 in the classification widely used in the EU. In 1998 Digiplan had total sales of 7 million (10 million ).

The main objective of the AE was to broaden the range of products that could be networked using the existing HEDA protocol by removing the reliance of HEDA on the Motorola 56xxx family of digital signal processors and doing this in a cost effective manner. Prior to the AE the only products that could, cost effectively, utilise the HEDA bus were those which already included the Motorola DSP devices - and this precluded the stepper motor drives. The availability of the HEDA interface would result in a stepper motor product with a greatly enhanced functionality, sales of which will result in an increase in company turnover. The product chosen at the outset of the AE was the PDX packaged stepper Motor Drive. However, because of the development of a new range of drives the first samples will actually be installed in this new product (known as Paragon).

Modern automation systems rely heavily on bus systems, like the HEDA bus, in order to control the various elements within the system. However the stepper motor drives which form the core of Digiplan's product range could not easily or cost effectively be linked into such a system. This situation was affecting the sales of Digiplan's stepper motor drives, but it was determined that if a cost effective method of including the bus could be found, then the result would be a significant increase in sales.

By developing an ASIC that could be configured to work on its own or with a DSP or a microprocessor, the AE opened up opportunities for HEDA to be applied to other automation components, such as digital and analogue I/O modules and simple Man-Machine Interfaces (MMIs).

The payback period is 14 months and assuming the ASIC has a life of 3 years or more, the ROI is 1334%. These calculations are based on using the ASIC in stepper and servo drives only.

The FUSE programme funded prototype cost s of 95k and Digiplan has invested a further 19,000 in more advanced VHDL design tools. The total budget of 114K was used for the payback and ROI calculations, together with the cost of industrialisation. The project lasted 24 months (elapsed time).

Significant additional benefits arising from the new VHDL skills acquired from the AE, have enabled Digiplan to develop the electronics for a range of new, compact, base and intelligent stepper drives in record time. With the addition of the HEDA ASIC to the base drives, Digiplan will have a formidable stepper product range which will penetrate markets previously only open to low power servo applications.
Parker Hannifin plc,
Electro-mechanical division,
21 Balena Close,
Dorset. BH17 7DX. U.K.

Detailed information

You can also benefit from microelectronics

Digital ASIC technology provided Parker Hannifin plc, with the means of improving its products and enhancing its market position. You can also achieve significant benefits by acquiring the right microelectronics technology and utilising it in your product or manufacturing process. You can get help from FUSE to realise this.

FUSE is a technology transfer programme, funded by the European Commission to stimulate the wider use of microelectronics technologies by European enterprises to increase their competitiveness and enhance their economic growth. The demonstrator described here is one of many examples in the public FUSE portfolio covering the whole spectrum of microelectronics technologies and spanning a wide range of applications and industry sectors.

FUSE provides you with:

  • Best practice in acquiring specific microelectronics technologies and conducting full development projects through the FUSE portfolio of real life demonstrator documents.
  • Local training and expert support to plan your innovation realistically and help you conduct your project successfully.

Further information and support relating to this and other demonstrators can be obtained from the addresses below.

Further information   Guiding Technology Transfer Node
For further information and support regarding this case study, please contact a Technology Transfer Node (TTN) in your region.
Homepage: http://www.fuse-network.com
Bournemouth University
Poole House, Fern Barrow
BH12 5BB Poole
United Kingdom