Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

Who would benefit from using the KINGSTAR Machine Automation Platform?

Any company or engineering team that relies on motion control boards or motion controllers today can benefit from using the KINGSTAR motion products. KINGSTAR Soft Motion simply replaces traditional motion control boards with software on an industrial PC. In other words, the motion control software runs on your average industrial PC yet can perform with the same precision as a dedicated motion control board that costs twice as much. The command interface for KINGSTAR Soft Motion matches most popular motion control

Can an all-software solution really perform comparably with a motion card or EtherCAT hardware device?
Most motion control boards rely on DSP or FPGA technology and the x86 general-purpose processors can now exceed the performance of these motion control boards. For a detailed comparison, read the white paper: Software vs. Hardware Machine Control: Cost and Performance Compared.
Why would I use the framework rather than integrating the components myself?

A primary benefit of the framework is increased quality and reduced cost. The quality is increased because the components can be pre-tested, and the cost can be reduced because the components are bundled. The cost of integration is not included in the price of the framework. Further, having a framework with pre-integrated components shortens the time to market because the effort to do integration is not required. Finally, a framework protects a customer’s engineering investment because it allows components that plug into the framework to be replaced with more current versions without disrupting all the other components that are deployed. 

What skills are required to successfully build a KINGSTAR-based PC machine controller?
KINGSTAR seeks to eliminate the need to understand real-time programming. It offers an application programming interface (API), which is accessed directly from the Microsoft Windows development environment. The API comprises machine commands that describe the motion that is desired for the industrial machine. Modes of motion include point-to-point positioning; position tracking; jogging linear and circular interpolation; contouring; and electronic gearing.
What is the role of the KINGSTAR platform in the IoT era?

World Class manufacturing today requires unprecedented flexibility, precision, and performance throughout the system. This is only achievable by delivering breakthroughs in machine automation while maintaining the highest quality and performance as the system reacts to any changes.

To deliver that performance, the main goal of the Internet of Things (IoT) is to collect and share all automation information generated by every manufacturing component and machine so, collectively, the manufacturing ecosystem or factory performs optimally. Real success is achieved by analyzing this information to discover actionable insights through corrective action or operational streamlining, which can be continuously implemented in a smart factory setting to become more competitive.

Importantly a machine automation platform like KINGSTAR can accommodate the many changes and trends that are emerging and deliver on the promise of IoT.  Here are a couple of examples of these IoT Trends:

  • Industry 4.0: This refers to the trend towards integrating advanced technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), and automation, into manufacturing and other industries. Industry 4.0 aims to increase efficiency, reduce errors, and improve decision-making through these technologies. 
  • Robotic process automation (RPA): This is the use of software robots or artificial intelligence to automate routine, repetitive tasks that are usually performed by humans. RPA can help businesses increase efficiency and reduce the risk of errors.
  • Predictive maintenance: This involves using sensors, IoT, and machine learning to predict when equipment is likely to fail, allowing for proactive maintenance rather than reactive maintenance. Predictive maintenance can help reduce downtime and improve overall equipment efficiency.
  • Collaborative robots (co-bots): These are robots that are designed to work alongside humans rather than replacing them. Co-bots can help increase efficiency and productivity by taking on tasks that are repetitive or dangerous for humans.
  • Smart factories: A smart factory is a manufacturing facility that uses advanced technologies, such as AI, IoT, and automation, to optimize production processes and improve efficiency. Smart factories can help reduce waste and increase productivity. 

Product-Specific Questions

What is included in KINGSTAR Fieldbus powered by EtherCAT?
KINGSTAR Fieldbus powered by EtherCAT includes a real-time operating system (RTOS) extension to Microsoft Windows, an EtherCAT master, and an EtherCAT auto-configuration layer. The EtherCAT auto-configuration layer pre-integrates a long list of EtherCAT servos and relies on the OpenCAN over EtherCAT protocol. This package is targeted to companies that would like to build a machine controller but still rely on either their own motion control board or a motion control board available from a third-party supplier.
What is included in KINGSTAR Soft Motion?
KINGSTAR Soft Motion includes an RTOS extension to Microsoft Windows, an EtherCAT master, and EtherCAT auto-configuration layer and a motion control library. Like most hardware-based machine controllers and motion control boards, programming the KINGSTAR motion package is simplified, with two-letter intuitive commands and a full set of software tools for servo turning and analysis.
What is the difference between the EtherCAT and Soft Motion products?
KINGSTAR Soft Motion simply adds the motion control capability to KINGSTAR EtherCAT.
Can I purchase the motion control without the EtherCAT Package?
The motion control is not sold as a stand-alone product. The benefit of the KINGSTAR framework is that the components are all pre-integrated and pre-tested to ensure the highest quality at the lowest cost.
Since KINGSTAR pre-integrates world-class components like EtherCAT masters, do I need to purchase the individual components?
The KINGSTAR products are bundled solutions so you do not need to purchase the individual components but rather purchase the package as a bundle and get all the individual components that are pre-integrated and pre-tested, ensuring the highest quality and the lowest cost.

Technical Questions

What is the protocol for commands in the EtherCAT Package?
Today the KINGSTAR framework supports CANopen over EtherCAT. In the future, the framework could support other protocols like Sercos over EtherCAT, or other industry standards.
Is the motion control API compatible with any well-known APIs from motion card vendors?

Like the programming of most hardware-based machine controllers and motion control boards, the programming of KINGSTAR Soft Motion is simplified, and a full set of software tools for Servo turning and analysis.

What are the NIC Cards supported by KINGSTAR Machine Controller?

KINGSTAR packages support all NIC cards that are supported by IntervalZero’s RTX64 RTOS extension. RTX64 supports most NIC cards that are available today. Download the full list of supported NIC cards.