Galil Motion Control - Auto-focused

While automated production improves consistency and offers economic savings, many manufacturers do not meet industry quality requirements. Ann Keffer, marketing director at Galil Motion Control, discusses the advantages of regulatory compliance and the latest developments in motion-control technology.

What does your company bring to the growing use of automated medical machinery?

Ann Keffer: With over 750,000 controllers sold, Galil Motion Control is one of the world's leading manufacturers of motion controllers and programmable logic controllers (PLCs). Since Galil's introduction of the first microprocessor-based motor controller in 1983, it has remained the industry's leading innovator.

Our goal is to be the primary source for any motor-control application: we offer our customers the most powerful, cost-effective and easy-to-use controllers available in today's market.

In an era of automated medical machinery, Galil's motion controllers and PLCs provide the absolute precision and flexibility demanded by the medical device industry.

Are automated production lines able to handle the more complex medical devices?

The most significant benefit of automation for medical device manufacturing is consistency. It helps eliminate human error and related irregularities, and improves the quality of medical device manufacturing. Regulations, such as ISO 13485:2003, exist to ensure motion-control manufacturers like Galil develop products that meet the quality requirements appropriate for medical device applications. ISO 13485:2003 certification improves risk management and customer satisfaction because it helps guarantee more consistent and safe motion-control products.

Could you elaborate on the significance of ISO 13485:2003 to medical device manufacturers?

Many motion control manufacturers have ISO 9001:2008. However, most are not ISO 13485:2003 compliant, which is specific to the medical device industry. Our compliance with ISO 13485 offers our medical original equipment manufacturer (OEM) customers the assurance that Galil controllers meet the quality required for their applications. We achieved this stringent certification to make it easier for medical device manufactures to select Galil for their motion-control needs.

What are some of the popular Galil products medical OEMs use in their machines?

The DMC-40x0 multi-axis motion controller series is Galil's highest-performance stand-alone motion controller. It accepts encoder inputs up to 22MHz, provides servo update rates as high as 32kHz and processes commands as fast as 40µs: ten times the speed of previous generation controllers.

The DMC-41x3 series motion controller delivers precise, multi-axis control in a low-cost package. Both controllers can handle any mode of motion with precision and ease. Galil's RIO-47xxx PLC is packed with analogue and digital input/output (I/O) in a compact package. Its powerful RISC processor provides fast I/O handling and logic control.

If our standard controllers don't satisfy an OEM customer's requirements, we will cost-effectively build a special product that does. Over the years, we have produced thousands of tailored hardware and firmware solutions because we are committed to delivering the best solution to our customers.

What distinguishes Galil products from those of the competition?

All of Galil's controllers are cost-effective, easy-to-program with our intuitive two-letter programming language and are backed by our commitment to superior customer support. Galil's controllers have been designed into many medical devices, demonstrating the company's technological innovation and prowess. We have very short lead times on our products so our OEM customers don't have to pad out their project schedules. Our product life-cycles are very long so OEMs aren't forced to redesign when we launch a new controller into the market.

Galil has been a major innovator in the motion-control industry for over 30 years, but it is more than a technology leader. One of our strengths is our dedication to helping OEM customers control motors precisely and cost-effectively.

We adopt a collaborative approach to achieve this success: we partner with our customers to solve their application's motion challenges and share our knowledge and innovation to ensure they succeed. We provide free application support and our engineers will continue to help them until their machines are working.

What key developments do you see impacting the sector over the years to come?

We see several motion-control trends that will have a positive effect on device manufacturers' ability to advance the automation of medical machines.

The first is a continued reduction in controller size, a trend we've also experienced in the computer and mobile phone industry. An increase in amplifier power density to meet the stricter size constraints may be another change, and advanced failure detection algorithms as well as redundancy in encoders would result in improved safety.

Finally, we believe control solutions will become highly customised to meet the unique requirements of future medical machines.

Galil is focused on providing the best motion control and PLC solutions to customers quickly and cost-effectively. If our standard product offering does not satisfy a customer's requirements, we will build a special product that does. Over the years we have produced thousands of custom hardware and firmware solutions; more than 50% of our customers have some customisation on their controllers and PLCs.

Custom motion controllers and PLCs consist of hardware and/or firmware modifications. An example of a hardware solution might include a unique form factor, special connectors, user-specified communication interfaces, integrated amplifiers and additional I/O.

Examples of firmware modifications are coordinate transformation, user created programmes, communication to unique devices, user-specific requirements for motion, complex calculations, custom filters and custom I/O commands. The cost for custom firmware starts as low as $800.

The typical lead time is two weeks for minor firmware modifications and up to 12 weeks for hardware modifications.

The process of creating a custom motion controller or PLC requires iterative collaboration between Galil and the customer. The procedure for requesting and receiving a custom controller is:

  • A customer brings a special request to our engineering team.
  • An engineer on the team works closely with the customer to define the solution.
  • Once it's defined, the Galil team writes a detailed specification and generates a quote. The quote includes charges for engineering, the estimated lead time and the unit price at the specified quantity (we give quantity discounts).
  • The customer reviews the specification, signs it and sends it back to Galil with a purchase order.
  • Galil's R&D team develops the custom solution, tests the solution and documents the changes.
  • The solution is delivered to the customer within the specified time frame.
  • After delivery to the customer, Galil's engineering team continues to provide technical support free-of-charge during implementation at the customer site.

Galil is committed to delivering the best standard or custom controller solution to our customers, along with superior application support for the life of the project.

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