Common architecture to simplify ac drives ownership

Paul Boughton
Ere Jääskeläinen reports on an ac drives portfolio built on a common architecture.

Low voltage ac drives now use a single-design control panel, common parameter structure and naming, universal accessories and the same engineering tools. Initially the new architecture is being applied to ABB industrial drives and standard drives up to 250kW with plans to extend it to higher powers.

The new unified architecture enables:

- Learn it once, use it everywhere - single-design control panel, common engineering tools and parameter menus reduce the time needed to learn and operate the new drives

- Universal accessories provide low spares cost and easy stocking

- Integrated safety features increase personnel safety and lower installation cost

- Reduced energy use from energy saving features such as energy consumption optimiser.

These benefits produce a low total cost of ownership for low voltage ac drives used in the industrial, commercial and public sectors.

The new architecture enables control of virtually any type of ac motor, such as induction motors, synchronous motors or induction servo motors. The drives can interface with all major fieldbus protocols on the market as well as remote monitoring solutions.

The new drives are designed to allow a smooth transition from the existing to the new generation, being the same size or smaller in dimensions than current ABB drives. ABB continues to increase the power density of its drives and the new ABB industrial drive has a volume up to three and a half times smaller than its predecessor.

The concept of achieving a smooth transition also extends to the drives' functions. The architecture integrates the latest and best features from the existing drives, such as functional safety and energy efficiency calculators.

Control panel and PC tool

The new ac drive portfolio introduces a new era in control panel design, featuring an intuitive, high contrast and high-resolution control display enabling easy navigation. Many flexible data visualisations including bar charts, histograms, trend graphs help users to analyse processes. The control panel offers soft keys and an intuitive four-direction navigation that helps users to quickly locate parameters or functions. An integrated USB port allows easy connection to the PC tool.

The panel features assistants that simplify the set up of essential parameters for different functions, so the user does not need to know all the parameters for the function, saving commissioning time. To aid understanding, the assistants make use of the new features of the display, such as increased amount of screen text and the use of graphics.

The menus and messages can be customised to use terminology appropriate to the application, helping users with application knowledge, but not necessarily drives know-how, to set up the drive using application-familiar words. The panel's text editor lets the user add information and customize text, such as the contact information shown on fault screens.

The control panel enables parameters to be copied from one drive to another, saving time and providing flexibility when configuring several drives.

The Drive composer PC tool, for all drive types, offers fast and harmonized start-up, commissioning and monitoring. An entry version provides start-up and maintenance capability while the pro version of the tool provides additional features such as custom parameter windows, control diagrams of the drive's configuration and safety settings. The control diagrams save users from browsing a long list of parameters and help to set the drive's logic quickly and easily. The PC tool can be connected to drives using a standard USB connection or an Ethernet connection.

With one mouse click on the PC tool, all drive information such as parameter lists, faults, back-ups and event lists, are gathered into a file, which can be emailed to maintenance personnel or to ABB for further analysis. This provides faster fault tracking, shortens downtime and minimizes operational and maintenance costs.

Integrated safety functions

The new common drives architecture comes with integrated safety functions. The integrated safety functions reduce the need for external safety components, simplifying the configuration and reducing installation space.

The safety features include safe torque-off (STO) as standard, which can prevent unexpected start-up or other stopping-related functions. In addition, the ABB industrial drives offer integrated safety options including safe stop1(SS1), safe stop emergency (SSE), safely-limited speed (SLS), safe brake control (SBC) and safe maximum speed (SMS). The drives' functional safety complies with the requirements of the EU Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC.

Low energy consumption

While drives inherently save energy, details of just how much is saved are available through built-in calculators including used and saved kWh and MWh, CO2 reduction and money saved.

The calculators provide information that helps to fine tune the process to ensure optimum energy use. The energy consumption optimiser control mode ensures maximum torque per ampere and cuts energy drawn from the supply.l

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Ere Jääskeläinen is with ABB, Helsinki, Finland.

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