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FEATURE DRIVES, CONTROLS & MOTORS


A variable speed drive (VSD) is widely recognised as one of the best ways to save energy by adjusting the speed of motors powering pumps, fans and compressors.


But look a little closer and you will see that a VSD has become a whole lot smarter in recent years, opening up new ways to improve productivity, as ABB explains


The hidden benefits of VSDs A


longside the benefits of superior efficiency and motion control,


today’s VSDs are packed with smart functions and advanced features that can significantly reduce machinery build costs while transforming the end customer’s productivity levels. Implemented correctly, these functions provide OEMs with the opportunity to offer a real point of difference compared to their competitors. Here, we look at three examples of how technology can help OEMs to steal a VSD advantage.


SIMPLER OPERATION When buying a VSD, make sure it comes with ‘adaptive programming’ which can be used to take the place of relays, timers, thermostats and external devices normally installed around a drive in a control panel. This can significantly reduce overall product design and build costs, without compromising on end product quality. When used together with a drive’s


many unused digital I/Os, adaptive programming replaces the need for a mini PLC. It avoids the need to fit remote I/Os into cabinets and provides the flexibility needed for panel builders, OEMs or end-users to adapt the drive by programming it to meet particular situations. For instance, if you do not want a drive to start until a valve is open, traditionally relays are used to inhibit the motor start. Now, by creating a specific adaptive programme, the decision on when to open the valve and start the motor is made within the drive.


SAFETY FIRST Ensuring the end products can be operated safely is paramount for an OEM. This would usually mean fitting an emergency stop button and sensors that react if someone comes near the machine or opens a safety cage door. These sensors trigger a safety contactor, which cuts the power to the motor. Some VSDs incorporate a safe torque- off (STO) function that brings the stopping functions of the contactor into the drive electronically. Now, when something triggers the sensors, the VSD itself shuts off the power to the motor


26 DECEMBER/JANUARY 2019 | DESIGN SOLUTIONS


instantly, allowing it to stop safely and to stay this way until an operator instructs the drive to start the process again. By using the STO function in its ABB industrial drives, equipment manufacturer Acrivarn achieved ISO13849 safety accreditation for its range of rotating rack ovens. Acrivarn produces ovens for food


manufacturers supplying bakery and confectionery items for UK supermarkets. A turntable built into the oven floor is used to rotate racks of food around the oven during the baking process. The motor controlling the turntable is fitted with an ABB 0.55kW VSD which provides a soft start and prevents liquid products such as quiches and custards from spilling. To rotate the turntable safely during


loading and unloading, the operator previously had to close the oven door and press a button on the left-hand side of the oven. Although the button could not be reached when the door was open, should a small metal flag that makes up part of the hinge pin come loose and strike the button, it could


downloading the manufacturer’s app to a smartphone or tablet, the user is able to wirelessly connect to multiple drives and execute any task they could accomplish by directly accessing the keypad, including commissioning, tuning and maintenance. Modern keypads also support text editing to allow users to switch to the


“Today’s VSDs are packed with smart features that can significantly reduce machinery build costs while transforming the end customer’s productivity levels”


cause the turntable to move while the oven door was open. However, utilising the STO function


in the drive now means that the oven automatically powers down whenever the door is open and can only be overridden by the operator pressing and holding down a ‘hold to run’ button located on the oven’s control panel. As soon as the button is released the drive immediately powers down again.


SPEAKING YOUR LANGUAGE Don’t make the mistake of dismissing the VSD keypad as a simple control panel – the latest models help to make drive installation cheaper, easier and safer. In fact bluetooth-enabled keypads are


transforming the maintenance of VSDs in hazardous or hard-to-reach areas. By


language of the application or industry. If the end user is pumping water, for instance, they don’t need to read the motor’s speed in rpm but rather the actual flow rate in litres per second with scaling factors. In addition, plain English is much


more preferable to codes and symbols that have to be interpreted or memorised. Should a problem occur, it is far easier to identify the cause and find the solution if the information is presented in plain, simple language. To conclude, VSDs with adaptive


programming and smart functions provide OEMs with a clear opportunity to improve their own profitability, whilst offering tangible benefits to their customers.


ABB www.abb.com 


When buying a VSD, make sure it comes with ‘adaptive programming’ which can be used to take the place of relays, timers, thermostats and external devices normally installed around a drive in a control panel


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