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Improving Performance Of An Automatic Door Controller

~ Motion Control Expert

Sliding doors that detect impediments and jams require frequent adjustment and are expensive to maintain. Discover how you can improve performance and lower maintenance cost with an electronic motion control system.

Application Challenge

Sliding doors that must detect impediments and jams require frequent adjustment and are therefore expensive to maintain. Intelligent door controllers must respond to many different real-world conditions and inputs. They read badges and alter their operation on a time schedule or in response to security alerts. How do we build an intelligent door controller that tracks long-term changes in the environment, triggers reliably, and has a minimum of false positives?

Automatic Door Application
Figure 1: Automatic Door Controller Overview


Application Considerations



Door type

Glass sliding door; 130 lbs

Jam detection

Sense impediments within 50 mSec


Track & report increases in friction from grit

Motion Control Solution

In this application, we use a Performance Motion Devices (PMD Corp.)  ION 500 Digital Drive to provide the door control. The ION® will control a single rotary Brushless DC motor with a position encoder that drives the door mechanism by a pulley system. The ION Digital Drive is software configurable and monitors numerous variables including the current output to the motor, and the position error--the difference between the desired position of the motor and the actual position of the motor as measured by the encoder.

The host entry controller communicates with the ION 500 Digital Drive and directs the ION Digital Drive to open or close the gate. All the critical motion control logic resides in the ION 500 Digital Drive, leaving the host free to perform other entry control duties.

At the heart of the system, the ION Digital Drive is programmed to control the motor’s movement while tracking the position error and trigger a door retraction if the error is exceeded. The servo control algorithm used by the ION is a PID (proportional, integral, derivative) loop, which has the advantage that the motor’s position error is proportional to the motor torque command when set in this mode. By tracking the servo position error versus the motor torque command, fewer false positives are generated because the instantaneous torque output to the motor contains a lot of noise, while the door’s motion is stabilized by inertia.

To track long term environmental changes, the ION Digital Drive can be programmed to capture an entire trace of the door’s open and close move. The host controller uploads this trace data and adjusts the trigger conditions for increases in friction from dirt in the door’s tracks, while flagging motor output profiles that indicate friction is becoming excessive. All of this means that maintenance can be proactive rather than reactive, and can be provided only when needed.

Automatic Door Tracking Window
Figure 2. Position error out of bounds


Figure 2 shows where the position error went out of bounds due to an impediment. By using the ION Digital Drives built-in encoder tracking function, the designer can provide a very rapid response. In this application, the distance to cause a reactive trigger is equivalent to just 1/16” in travel distance. Traditional mechanical trigger distances are, at best, about 1" before halting.

To simplify setting everything up, we use our Pro-Motion® development software, a PC-based software tool that communicates with the ION Digital Drive. Pro-Motion has the ability to act as a 4 channel motion oscilloscope, providing over 50 different variables to choose from for analyzing and monitoring the operation of the door system. These variables can be used to show quality, repeatability, safety, PM status, remote troubleshooting, power consumption, and more.

Going Further

Many door motion profiles are a constant speed, or at best a trapezoidal profile. S-curve profiles, available as a standard feature in the ION Digital Drive, can be used to provide smoother and safer motion for intelligent doors and gates.

By using an electronic motion control system, it is possible to standardize on a basic controller design, and then make simple variations in software to accommodate different door and motor sizes. This significantly reduces the complexity of designing solutions for different customers, and allows OEMs to lower the cost of documentation while improving quality.

Automatic Door ControllerION Digital Drives provide high-performance motion control supporting multiple motor types including DC brush, Brushless DC, step, and microstepping motors, and are based on our Magellan® Motion Control ICs, which provides user-selectable profile modes including S-curve, trapezoidal, velocity contouring, and electronic gearing.

Not sure which motion control IC is best for your application? Check out our IC feature comparison.


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