However, having overcapacity in the

form of equipment that is only used in a worst (or indeed best) case scenario, and mothballed for the rest of the time is not necessarily cost effective. A drive that is idle for most of the year can be more at risk of failure when pressed into duty as certain components naturally deform over time when not powered up, and so it still needs to be regularly maintained even though it is delivering zero productivity in return. Hire drives can be used for short-term,

semi-permanent or seasonal applications, allowing companies to ramp process capacity up or down with ease, while eliminating storage and maintenance costs. For motor-driven processes that are rarely in operation, hiring a drive can be a quick and easy way to find extra capacity when it’s needed, at a fraction of the cost of buying a drive outright.

by Rory Hamilton, UK Channel manager - drives, ABB Limited V

ariable speed drives (VSDs) would not traditionally spring to mind as

an obvious example of hire equipment. However, as margins become tighter, and customers demand more flexibility and faster time to market, the idea of hiring a drive is becoming an increasingly attractive proposition. Drives can typically be delivered and

installed the same day, settings and parameters can often be transferred from an existing drive (where appropriate) for fast commissioning. The specific benefits will depend on the

circumstances for which the drive is hired. It can provide a short-term capacity boost to meet unexpected spikes in demand, or keep production rolling in the event of an equipment failure, helping to keep downtime costs to a minimum.

EMERGENCY/UNEXPECTED BREAKDOWN Emergency breakdowns account for most hire drive callouts. Drives are incredibly reliable, and when maintained and operated correctly will rarely fail. Nevertheless, they are not indestructible. Frequent faults can lead to failures if

the underlying problem is not remedied, while other common causes of drive failure can include overheating and


corrosive environments. In older drives internal components such as capacitors may fail if not properly maintained. In manufacturing, downtime due to

equipment failure can cost thousands of pounds per hour, so it is important to have an action plan ready to ensure that any downtime is kept to a minimum. The decision to repair or replace a drive can be a complex one, considering the motor’s running hours, the cost of repair versus the cost of replacement, total cost of ownership, as well as any potential efficiency gains and losses. Furthermore, freeing up the capital for a replacement at short notice can be problematic. Hiring a drive can help buy some vital

breathing space to make that decision without pressure, whether you ultimately choose to repair, replace or upgrade the stricken drive. Hiring a drive costs a fraction of the amount to purchase outright, while production losses can be kept to a minimum.

TEMPORARY CAPACITY For some industries, for instance food and beverage producers, production is affected by seasonal peaks and troughs. A bumper harvest for instance could mean that extra production capacity must be found at very short notice.

Hire drives provide vital breathing space to choose whether to repair, replace or upgrade

TRY BEFORE YOU BUY If a variable speed application has not previously used a drive, or if an existing drive is due for an upgrade, hiring a drive can be a low-cost way to analyse its performance and efficiency in a real setting. This can help customers to make more informed purchasing decisions. The VSD is arguably one of the best

kept secrets to driving down energy costs in industry, and yet many motors are run without any form of speed control. This equates to vast amounts of wasted energy. VSDs can reduce energy costs for certain motor-driven applications, particularly variable torque applications like centrifugal pumps and fans, by up to 60 per cent. Hiring a drive is a great opportunity to

put a manufacturer’s efficiency claims to the test. There are several reasons why a drive’s actual performance may drift slightly from what was promised in the catalogue. For example: power supply quality, overload, application type, thermal characteristics and ventilation. Road testing a drive before committing to purchase allows companies to discover exactly how it will perform in a given application, how much energy and money it will save, and its payback time.

ABB T: 0333 005 7001


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