Lindsey Guajardo

KEB’s top 7 of 2017

In 2017 KEB America was able to share more information than ever before with our fans and followers. We’ve been working hard to research new trends, create informative and fun videos, and put together interesting graphics and images to illustrate the control and automation world of today.


We wrote about new technologies and the old, tried-and-true tech we love. We made videos with some KEB customers to highlight our products in the field, and animations to show how it all works. We wrote about application-specific scenarios to give specific use-cases for KEB products. We’re so pleased to see the interaction on our blog, Facebook, Twitter, and even in person at trade shows like Pack Expo. There’s a lot more to come in 2018, so please stay tuned!


In case you missed it, here’s a list of the top 7 posts of 2017.


7. PLC based elevator and escalator controls with KEB Automation (video)



KEB has many years of experience in PLC-based Elevator, Escalator, and Lift controllers. PLC control is often preferred for transit and public installations because components can be sourced on the open market. KEB PLCs are designed with serviceability in mind – components and chipsets are available for many years.



6. Robotic brakes for precise control


The robotics industry is diverse and becoming more prevalent every day from the manufacturing floor to the operating room. With it comes unique and challenging engineering problems pertaining to holding the arms and joints accurately in place. Robotic brakes for precise control is one way KEB can step in and lend a helping hand.


5. What is Functional Safety over EtherCAT, FSoE?


Failsafe over EtherCAT PLC


With a number of new KEB Functional Safety over EtherCAT (FSoE) products on the horizon, this post is a primer on FSoE and why it is important to machine builders.



4. VFDs for Single phase applications


This post outlines the use of VFDs in single phase applications  – why a person would want to add a VFD, sizing considerations, a rough cost comparison, and the advantages a VFD offers.

single phase farm duty motor




3. Short Circuit Current Rating (SCCR) and Fuse Selection


Protecting electrical components from short circuit current is essential when designing an electrical panel. But what exactly is the short circuit current rating (SCCR) of electrical components? More specifically, how is the SCCR calculated? This post will go through a detailed procedure for determining the SCCR of a system, focusing on the differences between direct and isolation transformer fed systems.


short circuit fault chart



2. Uninterruptible power supply and regenerative energy in elevator applications


This post describes how to implement uninterruptible power supply and regenerative energy in elevator applications using KEB’s R6 line regen drive.




1. How Pulse Width Modulation in a VFD works


What is PWM? The process involved in inverting the DC voltage to the variable voltage variable frequency (VVVF) AC voltage in the inverter section of the VFD is called pulse width modulation or PWM.

pulse width modulation vfd

pwm long graphic



Follow KEB America on social media to be among the first to know when we have new videos, posts, and products. You can always contact us via the web site (or email us at if you have a specific question you want to ask.




MQTT – modern data transmission for Industry 4.0

IIoT and Analytics - C6 RouterA fully-networked factory floor is the future of automation and manufacturing. Robots, cobots, and information going into and out of the cloud are helping us create better products faster and with more accuracy. The key to reaping the benefits of Industry 4.0 trends and the Industrial Internet of Things is communication.


In an ideal setup every component in the chain is able to communicate quickly, clearly, and reliably with the end user. If the data received isn’t up to par, all promises of remote monitoring and commissioning, advanced reporting, and real-time analytics go out the window.


The C6 Industrial VPN Router from KEB was designed for IIoT. It’s flexible, affordable, rugged, and secure. And now, the router is able to transmit data using MQTT protocol.


About MQTT protocol


Message Queue Telemetry Transport, or MQTT, was developed by Andy Stanford-Clark of IBM and Arlen Nipper of Arcom in 1999. The protocol is meant to be used in situations where a small code footprint is required, and the network capabilities are limited – like in small devices or automation systems with widely distributed components. It’s lightweight and uses minimized data packets to efficiently send information between several receivers.


This type of protocol clearly isn’t a new development, but the explosion of Internet-connected devices and Software as a Service (SaaS) has made it extremely relevant and attractive to systems engineers and software developers.


There are many frameworks and open-source platforms that have implemented MQTT. The crux of the Internet of Things is that data is stored and managed in a secure location that the user can access on demand without needing to host it themselves. You couldn’t ask for a better application for MQTT protocol.


Smartphone apps, like Facebook Messenger, need to be small, fast, and efficient enough to avoid draining the user’s battery and data plan which is why they chose to use MQTT as a model for sending data between users.


In 2015, Amazon Web Services announced AWS IoT, a cloud platform based on MQTT. It’s easy to set up, and has nearly unlimited potential uses. With Amazon’s slick, familiar AWS interface and established presence in the tech world, AWS IoT is a great way for new developers to become familiar with cloud-based applications and the pub/sub method of data transmission.


How MQTT transmits your data


Model of pub/sub messaging protocol


MQTT is a publish/subscribe (pub/sub) messaging protocol that works on top of the TCP/IP protocol. A broker is used to connect clients that are subscribed topics to clients who publish messages to those topics. Many clients may be subscribed to the same topic, and each can use the published data differently, as the application requires. For example, the data could be added to a database, emailed, posted to social media, or saved as a text file. The pub/sub messaging architecture contrasts the more traditional request/response architecture. The request/response model requires all devices to be connected, which significantly increases data traffic.


Topics in MQTT are easy to establish and subscribe to. Nothing needs to be configured – simply publish the message and the topic is created. Topics are arranged in hierarchies similar to a filesystem and the protocol is able to recognize two wildcard values (+ for a single hierarchy, # for all remaining levels), so information can reach a range of topics with only one message.


mqtt - transmitting data

Subscribers receive information from the broker


For Quality of Service (QoS) MQTT recognizes three levels: QoS 0, QoS 1, and QoS 2. For example, with Qos 0 the client fires off a message to the broker without acknowledgment that the message was received. With Qos 1 the client can send a message until the broker acknowledges the message has been reiceved. The strength of this mechanism is that MQTT can guarantee the delivery of a message and possibly resend the message in high latency networks. Higher levels of QoS are available with other protocols, but in the interest of keeping the transmission fast and latency low only these are used.


Another feature of the protocol allows the developer to create a message to attach to the client with instructions for what the broker should do in the case of an unexpected disconnect. The authors describe this feature as the “last will and testament” message. If no ping request or information is received within the set time limit indicating a loss of network activity, the LWT is executed.


The simplicity of the protocol’s operation is one if its greatest assets. Turnover of personnel is a reality in most industries, as are tight deadlines, scope creep, and constantly changing technology. By using MQTT in an application a developer is choosing a protocol that will be simple to install and maintain, and easy for new personnel to learn. In addition to the efficiency of straightforward data transmission, MQTT has several advantages in IIoT settings.


Diagnostic equipment used in waste water treatment facilities can communicate with monitoring devices and data loggers using IIoT.


The phrase “Internet of Things” was coined in 1999 – the same year Stanford-Clark and Nipper developed the MQTT protocol. But the idea of cloud-based services or operations was developed nearly two decades before that. If the Internet could send messages between two computers, it could surely be used to send messages between other types of machines.


Each new machine that gets added to the Internet of Things highlights engineering’s capability to build and embed CPUs in to the things we use every day. As the CPUs get smaller and faster, the lightweight properties of MQTT become a greater advantage. With limited overhead and minimized data packets, the CPUs resources can be used on other functions rather than devoting it to communication.


Flexibility in data types is another big advantage. This is the reason MQTT can be used in so many types of applications. Once the subscribed client receives the data message, it can do whatever the programmer wants with the data. The publish client also has flexibility in the type of data they will send – binary, JSON, XML, etc. – so the subscribed client doesn’t need to use resources to edit or convert the data before they can use it.


Another benefit is the availability of cloud-based platforms developers can use to build out their MQTT applications. IoT has a lot of appeal in its ability to keep data in off-site, third-party locations, potentially saving the integrators and end users the costs of building and maintaining their own server. Popular platforms like Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure can handle the message broker part of the equation as well as hosting and storing data from the application. Using familiar services from established tech companies means the integrator has access to a wealth of knowledge from the company itself, as well as many other users who share their tips and tricks online.


The Industrial IoT and secure communication


Security is an important consideration for IoT devices in an industrial setting. Though it may add overhead to the data transmission, keeping networks secure is worth the extra bulk for many system engineers. Even with its small code footprint and small packet size MQTT is capable of some authentication and security features that allow for data integrity and authentication. However it’s worth noting these features are not required for data transmission.


Whether security functions must be implemented or not is defined by the message broker. It’s up to the client to provide the functionality depending on the broker to which it will ultimately transmit data.


KEB’s MQTT client implements the highest data security features as standard. The C6 Router can use TLS, SSL, authentication, and authorization security features when communicating with the broker. Authentication – usernames and passwords, identifiers, certificates – and authorization – publish and subscribe permission settings – are done on the application layer. TLS and SSL settings are done on the transmission layer. By default, data is sent over non-encrypted TCP, but TLS can be used if encryption is required.


There are many consumer and commercial uses for IoT, but its use in manufacturing is what’s powering the fourth industrial revolution, or Industry 4.0. At KEB we design and build products that will get clients into the modern industrial world with all of the right technology. Each component of the C6 automation line is ready to network with other KEB products or integrate into an existing system, and we’re constantly making improvements based on industry innovations and trends.


KEB applications engineers are experts on IIoT and how to make it work for you. Contact us today for more information.


Send us an email


More C6 products for IIoT


Embedded control

IIoT for analysis using Combivis Connect

COMBIVIS connect software

Modbus TCP communication protocol for drives

As a system integrator, you may work with many brands of PLCs, depending on what your client prefers or already has installed. When it comes time to choose a VFD for their installation, it’s handy to have a versatile drive with communication options at the top of your list.


The F5 VFD from KEB America is popular with integrators and end users for this reason. Rather than having to accommodate limited options, the F5 is available with communication ports that connect it to a range of 3rd party PLCs. Modbus® TCP is just one of the many communication protocols available to KEB customers.



Modbus® TCP protocol for drives

Like Modbus® RTU, the TCP variant is reliable and easy to use. The main difference is that the communication is sent over the TCP/IP network. This makes it a good combination of simplicity and functionality. Generally, communication from the TCP variant isn’t as fast as other fieldbus protocols. However, the benefit of using Modbus® TCP over protocols with similar speeds – such as EtherNet/IP – is the increased flexibility. Because it leverages the most common physical network, a universal networking standard, and a neutral communication standard, integrators are met with a truly open method of transmitting data that works well with the brands of their choice.


Selecting RTU or TCP will come down to which you are most comfortable with and which is the most cost-effective for your particular application. The F5 drive from KEB is versatile enough to suit nearly any application, whether you choose RTU or TCP for your Modbus® protocol.


Modbus TCP - scalable family of drives from KEB


F5 – global drive platform

The full family of F5 drives was designed for use in a host of different applications and industries. It’s available in 230, 480, and 690 VAC classes, with scalable sizes from 1 Hp to 1000 Hp. An optional integrated braking transistor can be added for hoisting and regenerative applications, which saves on cabinet space as a separate unit is not required. Customers can select their preferred heatsink, and encoder options are also available.


Machine control options

When it comes to machine control, the F5 has options for open loop, closed loop, or KEB’s unique SCL™ technology. With the SCL control algorithm precise speed and torque control is possible without the use of encoder feedback, and in some cases positioning control can be achieved without an encoder.


Internal positioning functionality is built into the F5 drive for easy coordinated movements over the drive communication bus. The F5 can run both induction and servo motors. These options, along with the communication protocols available, are why the F5 drive is a perfect choice for the system integrator who works with many brands of PLCs and integrated control.


Let us help with your next Modbus® TCP application

KEB has been designing and manufacturing inverters for over 30 years. If you have a question about which F5 drive options best suit your application, contact KEB today.


Email KEB



Modbus® is a registered trademark of Schneider Electric, licensed to the Modbus Organization, Inc.


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Modbus RTU communication protocol for VFDs

The F5 inverter from KEB America has been a popular drive for many years due to its flexible design, range of available sizes, and lengthy list of options, including communication protocols.


One of these protocols is Modbus®, and the most commonly used version is Modbus RTU. This type of protocol is often seen in industrial automation settings because it’s easy to integrate and use, which is why KEB has made it part of the modular communication feature of the F5 VFD.


Modbus Overview

Modbus RTU uses the RS-485 serial port to transmit communication between machines. Information is sent between a single Master device and the Slave devices as simple,16-bit messages.


When using Modbus RTU data is stored on the Slave devices in four tables – two for coils (on/off values) and two for registers (numerical values).


Customers using Modbus RTU can expect fast and reliable data transmission because of the compact binary messages and CRC error-check mechanisms.


Modbus RTU - KEB F5 VFD


F5 – Scalable Drive Platform

The full family of F5 drives was designed for use in many different industries across a global platform. It’s available in 230, 480, and 690 VAC classes, with scalable sizes from 1 Hp to 1000 Hp. An optional integrated braking transistor can be added for hoisting and regenerative applications, which saves on cabinet space as a separate unit is not required.


Open Loop, Closed Loop, and SCLTM

When it comes to machine control, the F5 has options for open loop, closed loop, or KEB’s unique SCL™ technology. With the SCL control algorithm precise speed and torque control is possible without the use of encoder feedback, and in some cases positioning control can be achieved without an encoder.


Internal positioning functionality is built into the F5 drive for easy coordinated movements over the drive communication bus. The F5 can run both induction and servo motors. These options, along with the communication protocols available, are why the F5 drive is a perfect choice for the system integrator who works with many brands of PLCs and integrated control.


Let us help with your next Modbus RTU Application

KEB has been designing and manufacturing inverters for over 30 years. If you have a question about which F5 drive options best suit your application, contact KEB today.


Email KEB



Modbus® is a registered trademark of Schneider Electric, licensed to the Modbus Organization, Inc.

KEB announces Movilink driver for HMI and Routers

KEB America announces the addition of a Movilink driver to their HMI and Router products. The new feature will allow the control products to interface with SEW-Eurodrive Movidrive® inverters.


In many control and automation projects visualization and datalogging can be added to give the user more useful feedback and facilitate operation. In order to make this enhancement as easy as possible for nearly any type of existing installation, KEB includes a wide range of communication interfaces in their products. The introduction of Movilink into the HMI and Router of the C6 line of automation products allows us to reach a wider range of system integrators and end users.



All KEB HMIsMovilink drivers are now available on KEB HMI include an RS485 serial interface standard, which is used by the Movilink driver. Rugged, high-quality KEB HMI are well suited for many industrial applications. They come in a range of sizes and screen formats, bright back-lit displays with millions of colors, and touch technology. An LC version is available for applications that require a controller – an affordable solution for basic machine control with visualization. Each unit ships with COMBIVIS Connect software, so the system integrator has the ability to set up offsite commissioning and remote support.


By adding datalogging to an installation, the C6 Router with Movilink can enhance the performance of a Movidrive® inverter. Using KEB’s IEC 62443-3 certified secure, global network and COMBIVIS Connect the user has all the tools to monitor the system and analyze performance. The router is also capable of facilitating remote adjustments so the system can be fine-tuned without having to leave the office.


Movilink joins the list of over 40 communication drivers offered by KEB America. By being able to support a host of PLC interfaces KEB HMIs allow the customer to build a platform based on KEB products that will work in many different situations. In addition to the HMI and Router, KEB offers a full line of control and automation products from gearmotors and brakes, to IPCs and software. Each product was designed work as a stand-alone solution to be integrated into an existing system, or to be joined with other KEB products in a new installation.


For more information on connecting KEB control products to a SEW-Eurodrive inverter, contact us today.



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Movilink drivers are now available on KEB HMI

SPS IPC Fair 2017

KEB invites you to visit us at the SPS IPC Fair 2017. The event will take place November 28 – 30 in Nuremberg, Germany, and you can find our exhibit in Hall 4, Booth 4-370. A map of Hall 4 can be downloaded here.


KEB has a tradition of bringing the latest technology in motor control to the fair, and this year is no different. Visitors to KEB’s booth will be able to learn more about our unique SCL-Posi™ motor control technology – positioning control without encoder feedback. The technology allows system integrators to save their clients money and cabinet space by eliminating the need for additional encoder hardware. You can read more about SCL technology here. During the fair visitors will be able to view in person each item in KEB’s IIoT-ready catalog. Brakes, clutches, and gearmotors; drives and PLC; HMI, routers, I/O, and software. Our expert engineers will be available to answer all of your questions about modernizing an existing installation or building a new system from the ground up.


The 28th International Exhibition for Electric Automation Systems and Components will host 1,700 exhibitors from the industrial automation industry. As the use of networked controls rises, the organizers expect Industry 4.0 to be a leading topic at the event. This year they have arranged for a guided tour to be available to attendees where they can learn directly from specialists in the design and development of each aspect of the modern manufacturing operation.



click to enlarge

Artificial intelligence and the future industrial job field

The notion that developing efficiency in the way we work will destroy the future job market is not new. Articles and editorials currently making the rounds show a range of reactions to how robots and artificial intelligence will affect the workforce.


The hashtag #RobotsDontKillJobs was rising on LinkedIn recently, alongside the publication of this article by Germany has way more industrial robots than the US, but they haven’t caused job losses. With Germany being a leader in manufacturing, it’s no wonder people are looking to their experiences to learn more about how robots are integrating into the landscape. And the results show that over the last 20 years they’ve integrated extremely well, increasing productivity and profitability. During that same time frame Germany saw little to no change in employment statistics.


This type of automation – what we like to call “cobots” – where robots work with people in the highly-skilled areas of the manufacturing floor is where KEB products shine. The C6 line of automation tools was created to seamlessly fit into an existing installation so the humans and robots can keep the conversation flowing freely. Products like the C6 Industrial VPN Router for connecting to the production floor, our range of IPCs for automation and maintenance and HMI for visualization and control. Connect everything with KEB’s COMBIVIS software. When good communication happens, work is done faster and with more efficiency.


Artificial intelligence - automation products for better efficiency

click to enlarge


There is, of course, the flip side of the story. On that same trending hashtag, I came across this article from The Reports Are In: AI and Robots Will Significantly Threaten Jobs in 5 Years. Wait… I thought our jobs were safe from the robots? If we take a look at the kind of work that can be automated, it’s mainly things that can be done by less-skilled hands. Entry-level work is starting to disappear from job postings as these tasks are falling to robots. Workers in positions that require a higher amount of skill and experience seem to be safe from the robot takeover, and in fact are starting to see more job security according to the article, but younger workers aren’t able to get in on the ground level of manufacturing any more, and those with years of experience in the less-skilled tasks have seen a big drop in job security.


artificial intelligence - designing robot componentsIf the future of the engineering job market lies in more skilled jobs that work alongside robots, those of us currently in the field should work to ensure tomorrow’s engineers are ready for the task. Encouraging STEM development in schools and in extracurricular opportunities for underrepresented groups in the engineering field will be an important part of the future industrial job field. Here at KEB we frequently work with universities in the Twin Cities area and beyond offering internship opportunities. We’re able to provide practical experience to students wanting to put their engineering theories to work on the newest automation tasks.


When it comes to designing the tools for modern industrial settings KEB prefers to build systems unique to each problem to be solved, rather than selling individual products. That’s why we’ve engineered a wide variety of options into the brakes, drives, and motors available. In this way we can better assist our customers in designing an automated workflow even if they already have robots at work. KEB robotic clutches and brakes are perfect for applications that require highly precise movements.


artificial intelligence - programming AIRobots have been part of the manufacturing world since the Industrial Revolution, yet with each new technical development the worries resurface. In the coming years, a new fear will likely creep in – the proliferation of machines with the ability to learn. Not only will we rely on robots to do simple tasks, but as time goes on they will get better at anticipating issues and adjusting accordingly without human direction. Heavy hitters like Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking, and John Giannandrea of Google are raising their concerns about possible bias in artificial intelligence algorithms. These types of algorithms typically aren’t a part of industrial manufacturing, but the precedent is being set. Computers are frequently being taught to learn by people who do not have expertise in that particular field and those using the computers are not able to view or analyze the proprietary algorithms. If this trend continues the lack of transparency and niche knowledge in artificial intelligence could create a future job field that’s closed off to many potential entry-level engineers.


Did the digital camera kill Kodachrome film, and in turn has the smartphone caused digital cameras to fall out of favor? Is it Amazon’s fault that Sears is closing stores all over the country? Are millennials killing … well, everything?  Probably. Will robots take over someone’s job? Of course they will. The job market of our parents is not the same as the one we came into, and when our children or grandchildren look for their first jobs it will certainly be changed again. And in the end, if Steve Wozniak isn’t worried about robots then we’ll probably be OK.

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