Extraordinary Times, Extraordinary Solutions


By David Scacchi

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“For the times they are a’changin’”.

Bob Dylan had a way with words. Little did we know exactly how fast things were going to change. It seems overnight the world has re-written the word “normal” and forced us all to adapt to a new reality. But the world still spins, and problems still need solving and helping customers be more successful willalways be Gerrie’s way.

Fortunately, Rockwell has a “way” with something, too… motion. And they’ve just released an interesting new product for their Kinetix Motion family.

Adding to their already impressive servo line-up, Rockwell’s new Kinetix 5100 drive finally brings a “stand-alone” option to the K5x00 family… but with a twist.

There’s a specific feature about this new drive that I want to jump right in to, and that involves its

flexibility. This K5100 can be used in one of three different ways:

  • Stand alone
  • Connectivity to a Micro 800
  • Connectivity to a Logix processor

While not a CIP unit, this drive can still communicate back to a PLC utilizing specially designed AOI’s made to look and feel just like CIP motion commands. In other words, it’s a standalone drive with the ability to have “productive conversations” with any processors willing to chat.

Why would Rockwell forge such a beast, you ask?

Well, let’s play out a quick little scenario. Let’s say your customer has a twenty-year old machine with a single-motion axis controlling a conveyor. We’re in Canada, so obviously this machine is making Maple flavored Poutine.

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Now, this Poutine started by being sold out of the back of a food truck, but popularity forced the owners to automate the process so now they own a machine and this machine has an exit conveyor feeding the packages into a pick’n’place application that fills boxes for shipping. They only needed the single conveyor. It didn’t need to “network” to the PLC, so a standalone Ultra servo drive was used. All was well for a long time; as business picked up, they got away with simply running the machine faster. However, as the internet grew, and the world shrunk the demand for Maple-flavored Poutine made in Canada exploded. Unfortunately, the servo conveyor itself was already turned up to “11”.

The owners decided to add two more exit conveyors and two more pick’n’place units to keep up with the machine’s faster output. But the Ultra’s are obsolete. They were great at their job, but sadly put out to pasture quite some time ago. So, what else can we use?

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Enter, the Kinetix 5100.

Three K5100 drives are selected to run each of the three exit conveyors as stand-alone units. If you’re wondering why we couldn’t just use another stand-alone option like the Kinetix 300, well, we certainly could! But, keep in mind business is growing. It’s only a matter of time before the owners need to upgrade the poutine machine itself. Like most growing manufacturing processes, eventually data collection abilities will be incorporated. And as this machine grows, so too will the owners’ desire to track every part of the poutine-making process. Batches will be counted, and equipment maintenance will be tracked.

Using a Kinetix 5100 will not only satisfy the immediate stand-alone needs of controlling the exit conveyors, but it will also offer up the ability to expand its skillset as the entire system is improved over time. At some point, the PLC itself will be upgraded and the ability to communicate with this drive will present more opportunities for control and data-collection.

With the right processor, it will even be possible to transfer the conveyor programs from the 5100 drive and place full control in the PLC itself. That alone will present greater opportunities to modify and integrate the process as one program, without the need to “fiddle” with separate, external hardware. Remember, though, this isn’t CIP. Think of it as CIP’s little brother with familiar features.

There is more to the K5100, though. This just scratches the surface. In the next blog post I’ll shed some light on a few more interesting features such as:

  • Compatible Motors
  • Autotune & Vibration

So, sit tight! The world is changing. Extraordinary times calls for extraordinary solutions, and Gerrie Electric is here to take the journey with you!

Talk Soon,

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About The Author

With more than twenty years of integration experience, David Scacchi joined Gerrie Electric in 2018 as the Motion Control Product Manager and now utilizes his skills and abilities to help Gerrie customers deliver their best solutions.

Passionately Helping Customers Be More Successful By Delivering Exceptional Experiences