Intelligent Drive Technology for Flexible Production

Louise Smyth

Modern drive technology must be adaptable, customisable and easy to integrate into all automation architectures. Jörg Niermann introduces a range of efficient drive systems with decentralised intelligence.

The future of production is flexible. This requires new systems with decentralised intelligence that can cope with increasing process complexity. In the course of the digitalisation and modularisation of process plants the trend for decentralised system structures continues unabated.

Intelligent Drive Technology

Intelligent drive technology is a key technology because it enables the operation of networked and autonomous production processes of future ‘smart factories’ and keeps them running.

Drive concepts with frequency inverters mounted directly on the motors or in the immediate vicinity offer many advantages, especially for large plants and in modular mobile systems.

What Are The Benefits Of Drive Concepts With Frequency Inverters?

Benefits include the fact that distribution of drive tasks to individual, intelligent components close to the machine reduces the complexity of the system. At the same time, modular structures provide maximum flexibility. Changes to the system architecture can be made at any time without large structural modifications. Decentralised solutions are also especially maintenance and service-friendly. Defective units can be quickly and easily repaired or replaced. Pre-configuration of the frequency inverters at the factory also enables easy commissioning.

As well as this, less space is required in the control cabinet. Consequently, the control cabinet can be smaller or may even be eliminated entirely. As there is no frequency inverter as an extra source of heat in the control cabinet, costs for air conditioning are reduced. This in turn has a positive effect on the energy balance. A further advantage is that cable and wiring costs are reduced to a minimum thanks to the proximity of the motor to the frequency inverter. Only very short cables are used (if at all).

For users, decentralisation of drive technology therefore means faster commissioning and reduced costs in addition to simplified maintenance and repair processes. With a modular concept, maximum flexibility is also retained, as modifications and extensions to the system design are easily possible at any time.

Nord Drivesystems

With its range of modular products for decentralised drive electronics, Nord Drivesystems covers most requirements and applications. The drive components have a power range of up to 22kW and a PLC that is integrated as standard, and can be supplied with all commercially available connectors. They can be freely configured and adapted to any application.

Thanks to the PLC’s integrated inverter, the decentralised drives can form master-slave groups, which communicate with each other and assume control tasks independently. This allows a plant design with production groups and production islands. The PLC processes the data from sensors and actuators and can autonomously initiate control sequences, as well as communicating drive and application data to a control centre, networked components or to cloud storage. This allows continuous condition monitoring and therefore forms the basis for predictive maintenance concepts as well as optimum plant dimensioning.Innovative inverters

Thanks to their modular structure, Nord frequency inverters can be easily extended and offer a variety of scenarios for use in Industry 4.0 automation networks. Their fields of use range from conveyor technology and intralogistics to drive tasks in the packaging and food industries as well as pump applications.

The Nordac Link Field Distributor Series

The latest extensions to the range are in the Nordac Link field distributor series. This drive control for flexible, decentralised installation is available as frequency inverter (up to 7.5kW) or motor starter (up to 3kW) and provides what it takes to enable fast commissioning, simple operation and maintenance. All connections are made with simple plug connectors. Thanks to the integrated Posicon functionality, inverters can be decentrally located.

With its power range of up to 22kW, its range of functions and wide variety of accessories, the Nordac Flex is the most flexible Nord inverter. It is also equipped with an integrated PLC and positioning functionality. Thanks to Posicon, the inverter can perform positioning tasks such as synchronous operation and flying saw. Safer by design

Functional safety is becoming increasingly important as a fundamental component of modern machine and plant design, and it is an indispensable aspect of drive systems from Nord. At present, the company supplies frequency inverters with integrated STO and SS1. The drive specialist provides fail-safe communication and safe movement functions according to IEC 61800-5 with the SK TU4-PNS PROFIsafe module.The PROFIsafe interface module provides comprehensive safety for reliable operation of plant and machinery.

Integration of safety functions into the drive unit offers many advantages in comparison with a drive solution with discrete safety technology. These include the fact that less installation space is required with fewer safety components and the system is modularly scalable. Default and security-related information is transmitted between the superordinate security-related machine and plant control and the drive units with integrated functional security through one network cable.

Drive systems are the basic elements for plant networking and therefore play a decisive role in the digitalisation and automation of production. Decentralised drive units such as those discussed here are networked, autonomous and scalable – and therefore form the foundations for intelligent production.

Jörg Niermann is with Nord Drivesystems

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