Variable speed drives lower automation costs

06 August 2008

Baldor's new frequency inverters can reduce total cost of ownership substantially for common process automation applications, and are available in standard and dust- or splash-proof housings (IP20/55/66).

Baldor has launched a family of frequency inverter drives for AC motors that has the ability to reduce total cost of ownership substantially for common process automation equipment. The drives offer a very simple user interface that provides 'out of the box' solutions for a large proportion of variable speed motor control applications. They are also available with a range of environmental protection, from a standard industrial housing to a dust- and splash-proof version (IP55 or NEMA 12), and even a full washdown duty (IP66 or NEMA 4X) variant. The latter version is unusual in this smaller power sector of the market.

The new Baldor VS1MX family of drives is expected to help machine builders to reduce costs substantially in automation for common applications such as fan and pump control, as well as in clean area processing zones in the food and pharmaceutical industries.

The drive range includes both single-phase and three-phase versions, for motor control power requirements from 0.37 to 7.5 kW (0.5 to 10 HP). A Modbus RTU communications port is provided as standard.

VS1MX drives have been designed to be as simple as possible to apply. Every version can be supplied ready to use, with an integral EMC filter. Simple front panel mounted user interfaces allow any of the drives to be made operational in minutes. Although the drives come with a control language of 45 parameters — supporting the programming of quite complex applications — the first menu level presents a subset that allows the most common applications to be set up in a few minutes. These commands include motor voltage/current/frequency/speed, maximum/minimum speed, preset speed and acceleration/deceleration ramp. Configuration programs can also be stored on a simple external 'memory stick' type device, and reloaded as required. A remote keypad may also be fitted to the drives, to simplify the layout and construction of automation.

Despite the focus on economy, Baldor's VS1MX drives offer an advanced new-generation V/Hz control algorithm that provides much tighter regulation of speed, and greatly improves torque at low speeds — making the drives capable of starting up even high inertia loads.

The standard industrial version of the drive (protected to IP 20) is DIN rail mounting. The two higher-specification versions are panel mounting, and come with a built-in isolation mechanism that ensures that operators can switch the system to a safe state for maintenance purposes, or for dealing with day-to-day issues such as clearing a jam. The dust- and splash-proof version can also be ordered with a front panel mounted potentiometer, to provide a simple speed control mechanism for applications such as conveyors.

There are eight choices of drive available for single-phase applications, spanning motor output ratings from 0.37 to 2.2 kW (0.5 to 2.9 HP), plus a further 13 choices of three-phase versions for motor outputs from 0.37 to 7.5 kW (0.5 to 10 HP). All the drives also incorporate built-in analog and digital I/O and a NOC relay output, providing users with facilities to create custom remote control panels, and to integrate the drive into a process.

The drives' command parameters have been specially selected to provide a simple upgrade path for users of previous generations of low-power frequency inverters from Baldor.

With energy costs spiralling, it's likely that Baldor's new VS1MX range will provide a return on investment extremely quickly. Variable speed capability is a very important technology for manufacturers today in the fight to reduce energy costs. Many potential applications still use motors in direct-online configurations for example, running at full speed. If the speed can be reduced, the energy consumption costs can drop substantially. This is particularly the case for many centrifugal fan and pump applications, as the torque required to turn them is proportional to the square of the speed. In this case, a 20 per cent reduction in speed can save up to 50% energy. To complement such energy saving possibilities, Baldor offers a range of compatible AC motors that offer efficiencies in excess of the European high efficiency EFF-1 rating, in both metric and NEMA frames. Baldor also has probably the richest heritage in producing washdown-duty motors, and provides an exceptional choice for automation engineers and OEMs.

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