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Common drives architecture `cuts ownership costs`

29 November, 2010

The world’s largest drives-maker, ABB has unveiled a new generation of AC drives that share a common architecture resulting, says the company, in “the lowest total cost of ownership for low-voltage AC drives”. All of the drives, in ratings from 0.55–250kW, 208–690V, use the same control panels, parameters, accessories and engineering tools.

Initially, the new architecture is being applied in two new ranges: a family of standard drives, known as ACS580, covering power ratings from 0.55–250kW, in 208–240V, 380–480V and 500–600V versions; and a wall-mounting industrial drive, known as ACS880, which covers the power range 0.55–250kW at 208–690V. Higher-power versions are in the pipeline.

ABB says that the unified architecture will ease stocking, accelerate delivery and commissioning, reduce spares costs, boost productivity, enhance safety, cut energy consumption and minimise operator training.

The new drives, unveiled at the recent SPS/IPC/Drives show in Germany (above), have been designed to allow a smooth transition from the previous generation, and are up to 3.5 times smaller. The new architecture incorporates features from the previous drives – such as functional safety and energy efficiency calculators – so users will not have to redesign their machines or learn new functions.

The new architecture can be used for open- or closed-loop control almost any type of AC motor, including synchronous and permanent magnet machines, as well as induction servomotors.

The drives use a new high-contrast, high-resolution control panel (shown above) which is claimed to herald “a new era in customer interfaces”. It uses soft keys and intuitive navigation to help locate parameters or functions rapidly. Information can be viewed in a variety of formats including graphs, histograms and numerical data. Gauges, flashing warning backlights and progress views can help to identify and analyse variations and faults. Built-in energy calculators can show used and saved kWh and MWh, CO2 reductions and money saved.

The control panel can be attached to a drive while its cover is removed during installation, providing uninterrupted access to drive settings. A USB port built into the panel enables PC tools to be connected to the drives without any extra options, as well as making it possible to operate and access the control panel when it is not connected to a drive.

Software “assistants” simplify the set-up of essential parameters. Menus and messages can be customised to use terminology that is appropriate to the application, while a text editor allows users to add information and to customise text – such as the contact information shown on fault screens.

The graphical display eliminates the time-consuming process of browsing through long lists of parameters and allows users to set the drive’s logic quickly and easily. Connectors show dependencies between parameters and provide a quick view of the drive’s logic.

A PC tool, which can be linked to the new drives via their USB or Ethernet ports, allows rapid, harmonised start-ups, commissioning and monitoring. As well as a free basic version, there is an advanced version offering extra features.

If needed, all drive information – such as parameter lists, faults, back-ups and event lists – can be gathered into one file and emailed to maintenance personnel or to ABB for further analysis. This is said to result in faster fault tracking, reduced downtime and lower operational and maintenance costs.

The new drives comply with the functional safety requirements of the EU Machinery Directive, and include a safe torque-off function. Options include safe brake control, safe stop 1, safe stop emergency and safe maximum speed.

Parameters are harmonised across the platform, cutting the time needed by machine-builders, systems integrators and end-users to learn and operate the new drives. Users are guided through the configuration and drive set-up by a series of questions about the application and its configuration. For example, a fieldbus assistant can help to set up the drive and fieldbus adapter for Profibus communications.

The new ACS580 standard drives (above) use the same I/O numbering, functions and features as their predecessors, making upgrades easy. With light frames that allow even the largest drive to be wall-mounted, the drives incorporates a new DC choke technology that is claimed to be 30% smaller and lighter than earlier chokes. EMC filters, brake choppers, Modbus interfaces and safe torque-off are standard.

The standard drives are available with IP21 or IP55 enclosures that occupy the same footprint. They can operate at temperatures above +40°C with full output currents, as well as working at sub-zero temperatures.

The drive and motor can be started simply by connecting the cables, powering up and pressing the start button.

Functions built into the ACS 580 drives include: a sequence programming tool; intelligent pump and fan control; PID sleep and boost; pump inlet and outlet supervision; pipe filling and cleaning; flow calculation; and overload and underload supervision. These reduce the need for external logic components.

The standard drives can interface with all of the main fieldbus protocols. Other features include: an external 24V DC/AC power supply to maintain drive control during power failures; a galvanically-isolated PTC input for monitoring motor temperatures; and programmable external relays and digital outputs which do not need any extra components or enclosures. The IP55 versions offer the option of a front-cover-mounted mains switch.

A customisation tool can be used to brand-label, pre-configure, monitor and protect the standard drives, as well as adapting the drive and its user interface to different applications.

The drives provide information that allows users to optimise energy use. Embedded energy efficiency calculators show how much energy the drive is using, while an energy consumption optimiser control mode is said to ensure maximum torque per ampere and to reduce energy drawn from the supply.

The ACS880 industrial versions of the new drives (shown above) will be built-to-order to meet customers’ needs, using options such as fieldbuses, EMC filters, resolvers, encoders, dV/dt filters, sinewave filters, chokes and brake resistors, as well as application-specific software.

The common control panel will allow parameters to be copied from one drive to another, saving time and providing flexibility when configuring several drives. Alternatively, one control panel can be used to control several drives by daisy-chaining them via built-in terminals.

ABB has enhanced its DTC (direct torque control) control platform for the new drives, to improve productivity with accurate motor control and quick responses to process changes, without needing a feedback device. The drives can also control permanent magnet motors without needing extra software.

The industrial versions of the drives have IP21 enclosures as standard, with IP55 as an option in the same footprint. They have marine certificates and are also available in Atex-certified motor-and-drive packages.

Monitoring of the air inlet temperature warns when critical temperatures are reached.

The industrial drives support the CoDeSys programming environment, allowing easy integration with ABB’s AC500 PLC, which also uses CoDeSys. An application’s control logic can be designed within the same software, and some control logic can even be transferred from a PLC to the drive. The industrial  drives can also interface with most popular fieldbus protocols.

For more news from the SPS/IPC/Drives Show, see our detailed report.

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