Smart Motor Control enables Smart Machines for use in The Connected Enterprise
Over the past decade, enabling technologies, including EtherNet/IP and the Internet of Things (IoT), has helped OEMs reduce complexity and deliver truly information-enabled machines. Today, smart manufacturing and industrial operations embrace a new way forward. This new direction is highly connected so devices and processes can be continually monitored and optimized.
Smart production is driving new opportunities for end-users as they look to optimise their production and supply chains by bringing together islands of information. Advances in technologies such as the IoT are enabling devices to get smarter and meet end-users’ networking, integration, diagnostics and intelligence demands.
Electric motors are a major source of energy consumption in industrial applications, consuming about one-fourth of the world’s electrical energy. In an attempt to reduce this significant production cost, more industrial producers are installing variable-frequency drives (VFDs) to control everything from appliances to compressors.
VFDs offer value in every industrial sector. Because low-voltage VFDs can adjust motor speed to demand, they are valuable in high-demand industries or applications, including drives that use hydraulic or pneumatic drilling systems. Some of the greatest energy-saving benefits accrue in high-demand or energy-intensive applications and machinery used in metals and mining, wastewater treatment plants, cranes and hoists, centrifuges, tire and rubber, and oil and gas. In these applications, low-voltage AC drives control motor speed and torque, mitigating mechanical stress damage to machinery.
Self-awareness Reduces Downtime
As a result of advances in network and communication technology, motors and drives are gaining improved integration and connectivity. Today, drives with built-in predictive analytics can prevent significant unplanned downtime. For example, drives have built-in cooling fans to keep them from overheating. If one of those cooling fans stops working, the drive will overheat and fault, which causes unplanned downtime.
TotalFORCE technology is one way of solving this problem by modeling the fan’s predicted life. This analytical model is more than a simple counter – it takes into account measured ambient temperature (sensors are built into drive modules) and measured fan speed. Decreasing fan speed is an indicator that the fan’s bearings are failing.
The predictive maintenance model gives a notification over EtherNet/IP to the control system once the fan has reached a certain percentage of its predicted life – 80 percent by default.
A connected system can give the maintenance team a notification to replace the fan during the next scheduled outage, thereby avoiding the unscheduled downtime scenario. Furthermore, a connected system can be used to automatically check inventory of replacement parts and order if necessary.
TotalFORCE technology combines high performance motor control, advanced self-monitoring capabilities and a contemporary digital platform to deliver faster, more precise and responsive AC drives.
Adaptive Control Capabilities
Enhancements to the patented TotalFORCE technology for Allen-Bradley PowerFlex 755T AC drives include more powerful adaptive control capabilities, which allow the drives to monitor machine characteristics that can change over time and automatically compensate for the changes that occur. An adaptive tuning feature uses up to four automatic tracking notch filters to block resonance and vibration that can impact quality, waste energy and prematurely wear out a machine.
In addition, predictive maintenance features provide real-time information about the health of the drive. By monitoring operational characteristics such as temperature, voltage and current, the drive is able to calculate the remaining life of critical components and notify users. This allows users to act so unplanned downtime can be prevented.
TotalFORCE technology helps PowerFlex 755T drives deliver superior electric motor control through precise, adaptive control of velocity, torque and position. The drives respond to production demands by comparing current performance to application setting and making any necessary adjustments automatically. They also communicate their performance data through the control system to operations in real time and continuously monitor their own health.
PowerFlex 755T drives notify operators immediately about issues that might compromise drive or motor health such as: blown fuse indication and feedback; measuring and monitoring the run time hours; thermal manager; and predicting remaining life span of components. This kind of self-awareness helps to significantly reduce unplanned downtime. PowerFlex drives help to optimise operations, minimise downtime and keep your operations running smoothly.
“TotalFORCE technology enables PowerFlex 755T drive users to take a proactive approach in improving machine uptime. The drives can deliver information about the status of an application to the control system, which can be critical for reducing downtime and increasing productivity,” said Brad Arenz, product manager, Rockwell Automation. “The drives’ ability to be self-aware also enhances reliability and simplifies service.”
Active Front End Drives Empower Energy Savings
Top challenges faced by heavy industry manufacturers include reducing energy consumption, minimizing downtime and optimizing productivity. They need to resolve these challenges while still increasing profitability and protecting their investment.
In recent years, various technical advances – in power electronics technology, topologies and control hardware and software – have greatly improved the performance and precision of low-voltage VFDs. VFDs with embedded Active Front End (AFE) technology, also called regenerative drives, make the most of new technology by offering industrial energy regeneration capabilities and input current harmonic mitigation.
Today’s industrial users often install AFEs as a replacement for 12-pulse rectifiers. Most AFE drive systems consist of a dedicated AC drive with an active front-end controller. Drive systems also provide EMC filtering, providing lower input current harmonic distortion than is possible through traditional rectifiers.
Twelve-pulse rectifiers typically reduce total harmonic distortion to 10 percent, compared to about three percent for AFE drives. However, the values can vary depending on the source voltage distortion, imbalance and impedance. The reason: traditional rectifiers address harmonics passively, filtering them out after the fact. In contrast, AFE drives actively help prevent harmonic distortions detected inside the drive from entering and affecting the broader electrical network. By continuously counteracting harmonics created by non-linear current generated within the drive, active filtration brings harmonics within required range – despite input voltage fluctuations.
Smart Drives for Smarter Production
Today, worldwide industrial energy use is at an all-time high, and industrial producers are challenged to increase profitability while facing increasing energy costs. Efficient motors drive performance, and the impact of motor failure can be significant. With smart motor control devices, you can improve productivity and help avoid motor failures with an integrated, data-driven approach.
Smart motor control provides a continuous flow of valuable process and diagnostic data to your design environment, visualization system, information software and controllers – facilitating The Connected Enterprise and helping to increase productivity and minimize downtime while reducing total cost of ownership. How can smart motor control help you increase profitability?