New drive modules offer easy integration and more flexibility

Paul Boughton
Petri Torniainen reviews a recently launched series of LV AC industrial single drive modules. These user-friendly drive modules feature DTC technology, support customisation and easy integration into panels or cabinets, and include advanced energy saving and safety features.

Drive modules are sourced by OEMs, system integrators and panel builders. In some cases they are also acquired directly by end customers - particularly in the process industries - for integrating them into their own solutions. They are typically used in extruders, winders, mixers, pumps and fans, and cranes but their flexibility of use makes them suitable for many other types of motors.

Performance, reliability and cost efficiency are crucial factors for all drives, and purchasers of drive modules additionally look for benefits such as easy integration into their own cabinets or machinery, good scope for customisation, and readily available technical support. ABB's response to these needs is a new generation of drive modules in its flagship industrial drives product family. The new drive modules are rated from 1.1 to 500kW at 380 to 500V.

OEMs and system integrators

A major focus of the design effort was to ensure that the new drive modules can easily be installed into cabinets and panels. The shape, accessories, mounting methodology, keypad mounting, thermal management and cost were all optimised for this purpose.

The compact, IP20-protected modules can be installed side-by-side, allowing more drives to be accommodated in the same space. Removable I/O terminals make cabling easier, the power cable terminals are ideally located for cabinet mounting, and a new control panel holder has been introduced, which can be mounted either on the control unit cover or cabinet door. Full documentation - with helpful installation guides - is supplied with the drive modules, and customers also have access to extensive ABB technical back-up.

Versatility is a key benefit for system integrators, who tailor drives to match their own customers' requirements. The new drive modules meet this need with enhanced hardware flexibility. Their modular structure - with the most commonly used features in-built and a wide range of options available - provides plenty of scope for customisation. Interface options, for example, include Profibus, Ethernet and a number of different encoder interfaces. A large number of standard I/Os is included, which should accommodate most applications, with slots for additional I/Os if extra capacity is needed. Also provided as standard is a drive-to-drive link, which allows several drives to be synchronized together in a master/follower configuration.

The drive modules' software features an in-built PLC with IEC 61131-3 compliant function block programming for extra flexibility: standard parameter settings cover most common applications, but function block programming can be used for custom configurations. A number of PC-based tools are also available for easy drive selection, commissioning and customisation.

Ease of use

The new ACS850-04 drive modules are extremely easy to use thanks to their intelligent user interface. Macros can be used to optimize parameter settings with just a couple of clicks. In addition to the macros, three assistants are available to guide the user through all aspects of set up and use. The startup assistant helps with parameter setting and startup, enabling step-by-step adjustment of parameters; the maintenance assistant gives advance warnings when routine maintenance tasks - such as bearing lubrication or air filter changes - are due; and the diagnostics assistant suggests possible causes and remedies if a trip occurs. This saves time and helps to maintain high availability.

Other advanced, user-friendly features include the short menu display, list of changed parameters and I/O mapping. The short menu option allows less frequently used parameters to be hidden for a clearer, more straightforward user interface. A list displaying all changed parameters helps during setup, and I/O mapping shows an at-a-glance view of the various I/O functions.

Recommissioning a drive is now a straightforward process with the new removable memory unit, which is supplied as standard. The memory unit stores the drive's complete firmware, including all user settings and motor data. As a result, changes to application software and parameter settings can be made by the OEM and then downloaded into a memory unit for delivery to the end-user. If a drive's power or control unit is replaced, it can be recommissioned by simply inserting the memory unit, ensuring that production can be restarted as fast as possible.

Safe and energy efficient

The new-generation drive modules include an integrated SIL compliant Safe Torque Off (STO) feature as standard. Solutions for other safety features such as SLS (Safe Limited Speed) and SBC (Safe Brake Control) are available as well.

Energy management functions are integrated into the drive modules as standard. The automatic energy optimiser - included in the drives' DTC technology - ensures that the drive runs at optimum efficiency. A fan on/off control enables the cooling fan to be switched off when not needed - this not only saves energy but also reduces noise and extends the fan lifetime. External fans, such as the cabinet fan, can be linked to the same control for even greater savings. In addition, the drives now have their own in-built energy calculator to compute energy consumption and savings.

Enhanced performance and reliability

The 'heart' of the drive modules - Direct Torque Control (DTC) technology - provides highly accurate motor speed and torque control. DTC has been further enhanced for the new industrial drive modules: the torque response has been improved, motor identification at standstill enhanced, the maximum output frequency increased, and the low-speed performance boosted. In addition to asynchronous motors, permanent magnet motors are now supported as standard.

Reliability is very important for system integrators and OEMs - as any problems impact their reputation first - and it is vital in process industries as well. ABB has built the new drive modules around tried and tested technology, and they are supported by a global service network for fast support in all major markets. Over the years, the reliability of drives supplied by ABB has been proven in some of the world's most demanding operating environments.

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Petri Torniainen is with ABB Oy, Helsinki, Finland.

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