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120-model inverter family is 'first to offer AI diagnostics'

10 September, 2019

Mitsubishi Electric in Japan has announced a new generation of general-purpose inverters which, it claims, will be the first to incorporate diagnostics functions based on AI (artificial intelligence). The first 44 models in the FR-E800 series, with ratings from 0.1–7.5kW, will be released in December 2019. They will be joined, from April 2020, by further versions with safety functions such as SLS (safely-limited speed) and STO (safe torque off). The family will eventually comprise a total of 120 models in ratings up to 22kW.

Mitsubishi says that the inverters will be the first to incorporate a corrosive gas detection circuit on their circuit boards, allowing them to identify signs of damage caused by hydrogen sulphide or other corrosive gases, thus reducing the risk of downtime.

The new inverters support various networking technologies including CC-Link IE TSN, the open network that incorporates Time Sensitive Networking. Other supported networks include Ethernet/IP and Modbus/TCP. The provision of two Ethernet ports will allow the inverters to be connected in series, avoiding the need to use external devices such as switching hubs to drive multiple inverters.

Mitsubishi’s proprietary Maisart AI technology will be integrated into the inverters’ FR Configurator2 set-up software. The AI-based diagnostic functions will be able to analyse causes of downtime such as over-currents caused by acceleration bursts, helping to reduce such downtime.

The models with built-in safety functions will comply with IEC 61508 and will be suitable for applications up to SIL 3. When the SLS function is in use, the inverters will be able to calculate motor speeds without needing dedicated speed detectors, thus cutting costs and reducing the amount of wiring needed.

Built-in PLC functions will allow multiple inverters to communicate with each other to coordinate their operation.

Mitsubishi hopes to sell 850,000 of its new inverters in 2021

Mitsubishi plans to offer an app for smartphones and tablets that will be able to adjust the inverters’ parameters and monitor their performance. Users will also be able to view videos explaining how to use the inverters by scanning QR codes on the drive or in a manual.

The inverters are designed to operate in ambient temperatures from –20 to +60°C, and to comply with IEC 60721-3-3 (3C2), which covers the detection of nine types of corrosive gas. The ability to detect gases relies on newly-developed metal corrosion sensors that Mitsubishi claims are the first that are small enough (1.6 x 0.8mm) to be mounted on a PCB. The sensors will detect the degree of corrosion caused by gases such as sulphur compounds. By employing several sensors with different levels of corrosion resistance, it will be possible to detect the degree of corrosion in stages, helping to prevent equipment failures.

Mitsubishi will roll out the new generation of inverters at different rates in different parts of the world. It hopes to sell 850,000 of the new drives in its 2021 financial year.

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