Automated Conference Walls
Advanced Equipment Corporation (AEC), a Southern California based manufacturer of operable walls, came to us with an application that involved the design of a motor drive to be used in a newly developed track system. The concept of the new system involved the automation of the wall placement process. The automated track system would be comprised of several conveyor type segments that would each be controlled by a motor and drive. As a wall segment would be placed into a conveyor segment, that conveyor would move the wall along and pass it on to next conveyor segment. Current systems were manual, where a group of individuals had to manually relocate a wall segment from its storage location to the designed position in a passive track. Placing wall segments in different locations allows the venue to separate large rooms into smaller ones to host smaller events. Another requirement of the new concept involved the ability of the motor drive to operate in several modes. In one mode, the drive would act independently and run preprogrammed routines. In the manual mode, the drive would communicate with an HMI via a PLC, where the user would have complete control of each motor drive.
Our solution was based on a standard DCR300-6, a 12/24VDC input and 12/24VDC output, 6A fully regenerative drive. Engineering modified the standard design and added two RJ45 jacks to allow multiple units to be daisy chained. In addition, custom embedded firmware was developed to allow the drive to communicate with a PLC using Modbus RTU. This allows the user to access current limit, speed, run time, direction and several other parameters. In the automatic mode, each drive and conveyor segment was setup to act independently and run a set of predetermined routines. In the auto mode, if a wall segment was pushed into a conveyor segment, the wall being pushed into the conveyor caused the tread to move the motor. The motor moving caused back EMF voltage to be generated, telling the drive to start running in the direction the wall was pushed in. The conveyor would grab hold of the wall and move it along and ultimately handing it off to the next conveyor segment. This process continued until the wall segment reached the desired location. The current sensing circuit in the drive sensed when the wall reached a hard stop and would automatically stop the motor.
American Control Electronics engineering delivered a custom designed drive that met all of AEC’s operational and communication requirements. The new system added a new product line to the AEC offering which allowed for the quick and efficient positioning of walls with minimal human interaction. Instead of requiring a team of individuals, walls could now easily be setup by one person.