ABB’s ‘next generation’ of industrial drives

05 May 2009

ABB’s drive module ACS850 was introduced at the SPS/IPC/Drives show in Nuremberg, and exhibited at Hannover Messe this year. It features a built-in energy saving calculator, embedded Modbus and drive-to-drive link, intelligent user interface with a series of assistant wizards, integrated safety functions, modular hardware and software, and a removable memory unit.

Andreas Keiger
Andreas Keiger

It also uses the ABB’s high-performance motor control platform Direct Torque Control (DTC).

Targeted specifically at OEMs, panel builders and system integrators, the drive modules are designed for industrial machinery and applications such as extruders, cranes, mixers, pumps and fans, in the power range 1.1 to 400 kW, with voltages from 380 to 480 V.

PHOTO: Andreas Keiger, ABB's Director of Sales
of Motors & Drives, shows off his company's
new products at Hannover Messe.


An on-board energy saving calculator indicates the amount of energy consumed and the amount saved in kW hours as well as the financial impact.

It also features a duration curve that shows the load profile of the drive. The drive has an automatic energy optimiser that provides for optimum drive efficiency.

The drive’s internal fan features an automatic on/off control which provides even further energy savings by switching the cooling fan off when the drive is not active. The same on/off mechanism can control the additional fan used to cool the cabinet, saving more energy and reducing control room noise.


In most cases, the intelligent user interface with advanced assistants makes the need to refer to manuals unnecessary, while saving time in commissioning.

Macros, predefined parameter settings for specific applications, provide for faster start-up.
The settings can be changed later, if required.

The start-up assistant guides the user through the required parameters during the drive startup
process allowing a more precise parameter tuning.

Short / long parameter menus, I/O mapping and a list of the latest parameter changes make
the drive easy to use.

The drive also includes an embedded Modbus1 serial link that can be also configured as a high speed drive-to-drive link for master / follower functionality. Other common fieldbuses are supported.


The maintenance and diagnostics assistants help keep the process up and running and, in cases of disturbance, minimise the downtime.

The maintenance assistant gives an advance warning of maintenance needs of the drive, motor or related components.

The diagnostics assistant helps in locating the cause of a disturbance such as overload or overcurrent and in restoring the process operation, and gives sensible rectification advice.


Safety as standard is provided by an integrated Safe Torque Off (STO) feature, which removes the torque from the motor shaft.

This safety feature conforms with the requirements of

• SIL 3 / IEC 61508,
• Cat 4/EN 954-1,
• EN ISO 13849-1:PL e.

Other available safety solutions include

• Safe Stop 1 (SS1),
• Safe Limited Speed (SLS),
• Safe Brake Control (SBC),
• Safe Speed Monitor (SSM) and
• Safe Direction (SDI).


The performance and functionality of the drive module are based on the ultimate in motor control technology as provided by the DTC with enhanced features. These enhancements include

• improved performance close-to-zero speed without an encoder,
• low motor noise mode,
• higher output frequency, and
• improved motor identification at stand still.

This provides excellent process control for asynchronous and permanent magnet motors, yielding higher productivity and a high overall efficiency.


These compact drive modules, with protection class IP20, are optimised for installation into cabinets. The smallest module width is only 90 mm.

The modules can be installed side-by-side which saves space as more drives can be placed in the same cabinet, also allowing smaller cabinets.

Removable I/O terminals provide for easy cabling and help save time in installation. The power cable terminals are located optimally for cabinet assembly.

The modularity of the product and a wide range of options such as fieldbus adapters, I/O extensions and various encoder interfaces increase the level of drive customization.

The large number of standard I/Os is sufficient for most applications but the modular hardware and software design provides OEMs, panel builders and system integrators with the ability to tailor a drive for a specific end-user application by only choosing the options and features required.

In addition to the standard parameter settings, the drive can easily be customised with built-in logic functionality programming using IEC 61131-3 function blocks. This is supported by the PC tools that can be connected to the drive.


A removable memory unit increases the flexibility of the drive and provides for easy maintenance. The unit stores the complete firmware, including all user settings and motor data.

If the power unit or the control unit is replaced, the drive can be re-commissioned without any drive knowledge, by simply plugging the memory unit into the new drive.

Moreover, the memory unit allows the application software and parameter configuration changes to be made at an OEM’s own assembly plant before being sent to the end-user site, just-in-time for commissioning the drive.

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