Renolit favours DC solution

19 May 2009

Renolit Cramlington, a UK manufacturer of decorative surfacing materials, overhauled a near-obsolete control system for an embossing line, turning to Oracle Drive Systems for a drives and controls upgrade. Oracle went to Sprint Electric for DC drives.

PLX15a digital DC drive from Sprint Electric
PLX15a digital DC drive from Sprint Electric

Northumberland based Renolit produces laminates for use with domestic furniture such as speaker cabinets and kitchen cupboards. Many of these PVC-based laminates are embossed with a wood-grain finish and the embossing line is an important part of the production process. Recently, Renolit’s existing embossing line’s control system was becoming obsolete and difficult to maintain, which meant downtime was becoming a problem.

After an engineering survey, Oracle Drive Systems, a variable speed drive specialist based in West Yorkshire, UK presented two ways to upgrade the drives and the control system, one based on AC drives and another based on Sprint Electric DC drives.

‘The DC solution offered the best value for money. And because of Sprint Electric’s small drive footprint, the drives were retrofitted into the existing control panel,’ explains John Mullins, Oracle Drive Systems’ technical director.

A shutdown period of two weeks allowed the retrofit to take place and single-phase DC drives, a Leonard and Bauer digital phase locking unit and a Dingden unit, which was a large rack of analogue and digital control cards used to control the line drive system were replaced. Bardac Ethernet cards were fitted to the DC drives and a Bardac Smarty, which also sat on the Ethernet network, a DIN rail mounted processor unit, was used to control the phase locking. The functionality of the Dingden unit was replaced by utilising the software within the Ethernet cards and the built-in software blocks of the DC drives.

The whole retrofit and re-commissioning of 21 DC drives and the control system refurbishment was completed in two weeks, with Oracle Drive Systems working with shift engineers from Renolit. Engineers claimed that the wireless network allowed commissioning to be done quickly and easily because it was possible to check in/out signals directly using a laptop computer.

Mullins concludes, ‘Renolit Cramlington’s new digital emboss line has much improved repeatability, is less prone to variation and is much easier to maintain.’

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