25 Jul 2024

AUTOMATION FOR MANUFACTURING

Cloud-based service predicts when drives are likely to fail

ABB’s condition-based maintenance service could help to avoid unplanned downtime

ABB has launched a condition-based maintenance service for variable-speed drives (VSDs) that gives early warnings of abnormal conditions that might cause a premature failure. The service covers its ACS800 or ACS880 air-cooled drives being used in critical applications in the oil and gas, metals, water and paper industries, where it is vital to avoid costly, unplanned shutdowns.

The service will monitor key VSD components – such as fans, semiconductors and capacitors – continuously. Thermal, voltage and power sensors collect data on ambient temperatures and load variations on the components and assess their impact on the components’ lifetimes. Cloud-based algorithms and statistical analyses estimate stress levels on components and predict their remaining lives.

If failure is likely before the next planned maintenance event, users can take action to prevent a shutdown. The service can also indicate if the drive components are under less stress than normal and are likely to last longer than expected, allowing maintenance intervals to be extended, thus cutting costs and boosting productivity.

The failure of a drive component can often be predicted one, or even two, years in advance, according to ABB. The accuracy of the remaining life prediction will vary according to the application.

In an early trial of the new service in the steel industry, an IGBT in a drive a rolling mill was found to be working at a high stress level. Calculations showed that the component had reached the end of its useful life, but it was not replaced. Four months later it failed. After the IGBT had been replaced, a new analysis suggested that it should last five years before needing to be replaced again.

The new drives service is an extension of ABB’s Ability Digital powertrain technology that connects drives, motors, pumps and bearings.