Updated: Sep 20, 2021
I recently got the pleasure to integrate a IAI ROBO Cylinder into an Allen Bradley CompactLogix PLC and want to share some of my views on this project.
Before I get started I want to tell you that IAI is a company who makes Linear actuators that have a servo/stepper motor that controls the linear slide. They all come with some sort of IAI Controller that controls them. IAI does make a very broad selection, and if you choose to go with them in your next project, I am certain their relaibilty after integration will not let you down.
But I am not here to help IAI sell their products but rather to give my opinion of their product. So for starters I will say for the price, repeatablity, and relaiabilty they are well worth the go ahead. I have personally seen these linear acutators working after many years of use. Their repeatability is almost tighter than some of the best servo motors out there on the market today. More than likely because they are controlled by a servo themselves, whether anyone wants to admit that or not. As for price, they aren't as dirt cheap as a pneumatic cylinder, but compared to a Allen Bradley Servo drive, Servo Motor, and linear slide, they are far cheaper. By a long shot!
All this sounds great and your probably thinking two things right now, I am ready to use this in my next project, or whats the catch. Well I am here to tell you that also. The only real catch comes to the integrating of the drive into your Rockwell PLC Project. IAI is there to tell you it is very simple, but I would greatly disagree with them. After two hours of finding the AOI and UDT Files from their website, opening a sample program, I still came to a shooting halt of the hassle of integrating this into my program. They make it sound like it is a simple as integrating an Allen Bradley Servo Drive right into your program with all of the motion commands, but that would be quite a mistake. Yes there are the new AOI commands, but you will spend 30 minutes just figuring out what tags you need to create from their sample program, as none of that is clearly documented in their instruction sheet. But once you get through all of that hassle of creating all of those new tags, wishing that IAI had just created a quality EDS File for you with a tag database to import with it, you beign to feel as sense of achievement. Achievement knowing that your new Cylinder is going to work great.
But wait is there more. Actually there isn't. You of course need to setup your IAI Drive the way the instructions layout for you, but those are actually really clean and well understood for the drive. And once you switch your drive back into auto mode, you will begin to see your drive work right before your very eyes.
So all in all I really do wish they would just create an EDS Files to incorporate into the PLC Program but for the price and reliabilty, I will more than likely be using these in my projects again in the future. But I will be honest, I will probably have words with my rep several times before I purchase one, in order to get the ball rolling with them to create that EDS File.