Rockwell’s Latest Solutions Simplify Machine Design, Save on Cabinet Space

November 29, 2022 by Shawn Dietrich

Rockwell has expanded its Armor product family as part of their On-Machine solutions. The products are designed to be mounted on the machine or in the field, greatly reducing occupied space in the cabinet.

Rockwell Automation is a well-known manufacturer of automation components and industrial electrical components. As part of their shift towards smart manufacturing with On-Machine solutions, Rockwell has expanded its Armor product line that consists of variable-frequency drives (VFDs), remote I/O blocks, and servo drives. 


On-Machine Solutions

Rockwell's On-Machine solutions are designed with machine builders in mind—they are more affordable, easier to install, and take up less floor space. Rather than being in a cabinet, the portfolio of on-machine equipment is decenetralized and designed to be mounted on a machine. Below, we'll take a look at the latest On-Machine solutions from Rockwell.


Allen-Bradley AmorKinetix Distributed Servo Drives

Rockwell (Allen-Bradley) ArmorKinetix Distributed Servo Drives. Image used courtesy of Rockwell Automation


Distributed Servo Drive

Servo motors are an accurate and efficient way to move components from one point to another, but they require large, bulky hardware that has to be stored in a ventilated electrical cabinet. There is an industry desire to reduce the overall footprint of electrical cabinets to save on floor space in the factory. 

In response to this desire, Rockwell is releasing the ArmorKinetix, a decentralized servo motor. Decentralized means there is no central location for the drive units; instead, they are mounted directly on or near the servo motors themselves. This topology saves complexity in the electrical cabinet and reduces the overall footprint of electrical equipment. 

The ArmorKinetix can be mounted directly on the motor or it can be an in-field, near-the-motor installation. The units are IP66 rated and they have a safety rating of SIL-3, making these drives and motor combinations safe and flexible. By mounting the drive close to or on the motor, troubleshooting time can also be reduced by knowing which drive is connected to which motor, a problem typically found with older equipment that has missing labels. 


Allen-Bradley ArmorBlock 5000 I/O Blocks

Rockwell (Allen-Bradley) ArmorBlock 5000 I/O Blocks. Image used courtesy of Rockwell Automation


Distributed I/O Block

Distributed I/O blocks group digital inputs and outputs that are used in the field and distribute them onto a fieldbus for the PLC or automation controller. Using a distributed I/O block reduces the number of cables traveling back and forth from the electrical cabinet. The I/O block also reduces the time wiring devices in the field. 

Transition IO-Link is an industrial serial protocol used to connect a variety of different devices all into one port and allow for device-specific settings or diagnostics all over a standard fieldbus protocol. 

The ArmorBlock 5000 makes use of the IO-Link technology to help reduce the overall machine footprint by consolidating multiple functions into one port. The ArmorBlock comes with eight IO-Link ports, twelve digital inputs, sixteen outputs, and has models with up to IP69K rating for washdown environments. There are also dual network and power connections to allow a ring topology for both the fieldbus and power. 


Allen-Bradley Armor PowerFlex Drives

Rockwell (Allen-Bradley) Armor PowerFlex Drives. Image used courtesy of Rockwell Automation


PowerFlex Drives

Motion control on the machine is always difficult because of high voltage in harsh environments. The components need to be able to withstand harsh environments and keep operators safe. The Armor PowerFlex drive is a VFD designed to be mounted on the machine or in the field. This helps reduce cabling costs and saves space within the electrical cabinet. 

The Armor PowerFlex drive supports three-phase asynchronous motors, permanent magnet motors, and high-efficiency synchronous motors. The drive is IP66 rated and is available in three sizes: 3 Hp, 10 Hp, and 20 Hp. There are dual Ethernet connections for supporting ring Ethernet topologies, and advanced safety functions over CIP are also supported.


Machine Design Simplified

Rockwell showcased its latest On-Machine solutions at Automation Fair just this past month. The newest products from Rockwell aim to address current challenges faced by OEMs by making machine design simpler, more affordable, and take up less floor space with its decentralized design.