The evolution of machines requires electric drives to actively monitor and adjust their own key operational parameters such as speed, direction and power, in case of performance or environmental changes.
CosmoDU has developed the hardware platform of next-generation drive units, where sensors, signal processing, secure communication and control and power electronics have been directly integrated in the housing of the motor. This new drive unit uses its self-learning capabilities to adjust and improve its performance.
Today industrial drives consist of electric motors, inverters, and an additional control stage. Maintenance is done regularly independently from load and system condition. The smart intelligent electric drives developed within CosmoDU will be key enablers for Industry 4.0. They will increase manufacturing flexibility and even have the ability to learn and to communicate. Moreover, they will maximise system availability by eliminating downtime due to unexpected servicing needs.
The objective was to develop a hardware platform which integrates sensors, signal processing, secure communication and control electronics as well as the power electronics and the driver stages directly in the housing of the motor. The platform should be used for different applications as conveyor belts, robotics, tooling machines, automated driving and fullscale electromobility, as well as smart energy and smart infrastructure solutions. Together with functional performance, CosmoDU has addressed multiple challenges such as electro-magnetic compliance (EMC), thermal management, functional safety and system availability that specifically arise from an ultracompact design. Indeed, fast switching power devices in the neighbourhood of low voltage components tend to cause EMC issues, while the limited cooling capability of the integrated system is highly demanding in terms of thermal management.
Smart drives will enable major reductions in energy consumption in factory automation by reducing cabling as well as increasing the overall system efficiency. It is estimated that industrial drives could cut approximately 10% of worldwide electrical energy consumption, with corresponding savings in costs and CO2-emissions. Additionally, CosmoDU project will deliver benefits for its participants – three large companies, eight small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and three research institutes and universities from Germany and the Netherlands. The market-leading original equipment manufacturer (OEMs) and Tier 1 suppliers involved will be able to exploit the results in their businesses. For the expert SMEs, this is an opportunity to employ and develop their expertise in key areas such as electromagnetic compliance (EMC), health monitoring of electronic systems, active performance control, packaging processes and equipment, motor control and system integration of the hardware and software. Similarly, the research organizations will gain valuable knowledge in industrial practice, which will both enrich academic knowledge and improve future research services to industry.
CosmoDU will not only strengthen the technological leadership of the involved partners, but also support European manufacturing and create new jobs through competitive, smart and highly flexible industrial production.