Mclennan supplies motion control for analytical sensor evaluation platform

Written by: Mclennan Servo Supplies Ltd | Published:

When ExpoPharma designed a new Process Analytical Technology (PAT) powder-stream conditioning chute – a full-scale development platform for characterising analytical sensors for use in continuous pharma or similar manufacturing processes – they turned to Mclennan for a standalone Ethernet-based three-axis micropositioning sub-system, complete with planetary gear units, pre-programmed HMI and a temperature controller.

ExpoPharma’s Spectrum Multi-Probe Chute allows multiple PAT technologies to be simultaneously evaluated as a means to economise API software use and speed production development by providing optimum interfacing for several sensor types used to provide precise information from the powder stream including chemical structure, identity, particle size, contamination etc.

The three positioning axes, supplied from Mclennan’s distribution partner JVL, are MIS232 series integrated microstepping motors – the novel motion control solution that combines motor, drive, controller and comms in a single package. Fitted with Mclennan’s own IP57 series planetary gear units to provide high resolution angular positioning, each drive micropositions shaped end-effectors that collect sample material from the powder stream and present it to the sensors which are typically particle image analysers, Raman spectroscopy probes and a near infrared (NIR) spectrometers. Each sensor requires a different shaped end-effector to manage the sample collection (and for some a cleaning regime), with quite different positioning characteristics in terms of angular travel, speed, acceleration and deceleration.

Mclennan worked engineer-to-engineer with ExpoPharma from the early stages of product development. Through its system integration capability and experience the ‘distributed’ integrated stepper motor solution was recommended to provide cost and functional advantages, and to maintain the maximum portability requirements specified for the Multi-Probe Chute. The compact and easily installed stand-alone solution reduced ExpoPharma’s product development burden and also required much less installation effort through less cabling which furthermore simplified commissioning. And most importantly, JVL’s integrated motor technology is proven to be inherently better protected against electrical noise - an especially important requirement for the sensitive sensor equipment under evaluation on the platform.

Mclennan’s scope of supply covered the programming, commissioning, training and support manuals for the sub-system with the three motor axes part of a Modbus TCP protocol network segment which also included a Kinco HMI and an EMKO temperature controller.

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