Michael D. Sidman, Ph.D.

SIDMAN Engineering, INC.

Mechatronics  ▪  Motor & Motion Control  ▪  Servo Systems 

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The Model Centric Approach to Product Design

Engineers who design products for today's fiercely competitive markets must rapidly deliver high performance designs that work reliably and offer outstanding value. Perhaps the most important factors in achieving these goals are to quickly understand the risks and tradeoffs in a proposed new design and to rapidly optimize an existing or preliminary product design. Assessing and minimizing design risk, especially in products that include complex electromechanical dynamics and servo control, has never been simple. However, a comprehensive, open-architecture simulation tool makes product design far more efficient, productive and successful.

Many companies have already discovered that it is faster, cheaper and more efficient to evaluate a future product's dynamic performance and robustness using a detailed, customized model than to rely solely on the traditional method of building, coding and laboratory testing. Servo, motor and motion control simulation models are already in use in a wide variety of industries, including industrial and chemical process control, aerospace, computer peripherals and automotive. Although servo and motion control systems utilize a variety of motor types, span the range of milliwatts to thousands of horsepower, and have bandwidths from fractions of a hertz to several kilohertz, comprehensive modeling and simulation of such systems is representative of this growing trend. Model development is almost always an excellent investment in a company's technology base, and assembling an encyclopedic bag of tricks is often the hallmark of a successful long term competitor in the marketplace.

Creating a simulation model generally begins with analyzing a product's dynamics from basic physical principles and system identification results, if available. One usually must solve the resulting system of equations and prepare them for translation into an appropriate state-space form. A resulting plant model can be combined with an existing or proposed digital control system. Once a complete closed-loop model is developed and tested, the product development team can use it to quickly evaluate new ideas or modifications. As breadboarding or prototyping begins, laboratory measured performance can be verified with simulation results.

It is said that iteration is the key to success. Product and system developers in companies large and small now accept that using a comprehensive simulation model to quickly iterate to an optimal solution not only greatly accelerates the design cycle, but it saves considerable prototyping expense.

- Mike Sidman

Customized Simulation Models and Design Tools

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