An integrated motor (sometimes called a smart motor) is a motor that integrates one or more motion system components. The motor part of the integrated motor can be a brushless DC motor, a servo motor or a stepper motor.
A typical motion system has many common components, including motors, controllers, drive and drive power supplies, control electronics, wiring, and feedback devices (such as encoders). Therefore, the composition of the integrated motor can be changed. For example, the most basic types can include motors and encoders or motors, drives and controllers, and communication ports.
Integrated motors can improve reliability, mainly because there are fewer parts connected together. Fewer external connections means fewer cables and wiring, and can minimize costs, while avoiding separate component purchases, because the motion controller and drive are in one physical unit.
Integrated motor programming is also relatively easy, helping to shorten development time. Communication options range from simple serial communication links (such as RS232 or RS485) to more advanced network topologies suitable for complex motion control tasks (such as CANopen, DeviceNet or Ethernet protocols).
In some designs, the integrated motor can also eliminate external controllers such as PLC. Such an integrated system can reduce the space required by the machine by merging components, and in some cases can even eliminate the housing.
With the popularity of distributed motion control architectures, integrated motors are also increasing. This alternative to integrated motion control distributes machine intelligence to motion axes (including the form of integrated motors), sometimes allowing OEMs or factory engineers to not use a central controller. Therefore, the motor can perform control closer to the actual motion axis or load axis, thereby distributing the computational burden of the central controller to each integrated motor.