The drive system itself has various levels of software. Almost every circuit board in the drive (and your television, and remote control and automobile) contains a computer and software. This is divided into two categories, the firmware, and the user software. Generally, the firmware is stored in flash memory (same as in your memory stick and in your camera).
The firmware is programmed by the vendor of the equipment. The programming cannot be custom-modified on-site. An update can be loaded into the drive on site.
The user software can be modified (programmed or configured) by the drive tech on site. Software in the notebook computer (or on the HMI attached to the drive) is used to configure the user software in the drive on-site. The drive tech and project manager both hope that the firmware is solid and bug-free. Both the drive tech and project manager have enough challenges in their lives without problems in the firmware.
Problems with firmware are very annoying because there is nothing the drive tech can do about them except to contact the factory and wait for an update.
We need a few examples of firmware problems. There are many.
- Some of the drives come out of the box with version 3 firmware and the rest have version 4 firmware. This is a compatibility problem.
- The HMI cannot recognize the drives with version 4 firmware. This is a compatibility problem.
- Drives with version 3 firmware will not run more than 18 hours without shutting down. This is a bug in the firmware and why all vendors have an FAQ section on their website.
- We have conflicting requirements in that we need functions in version 3 and functions in version 4 all working correctly.
The good news about firmware is that updates can be loaded on-site to resolve problems.