Chapter 1: What is a Drive?


What is a Drive?

In the most generic sense, a drive is a device that controls speed, torque, direction, and the resulting horsepower of a system. There are many different types of drives, and they will be discussed later in this chapter. For now, we will focus on the reasons for drive use in our industrial and commercial environments. To appreciate the use and benefits of any type of drive, we need to look at a generic application and determine how the system could be improved. Figure 1-1 shows a prime candidate for a variable-speed drive—a conveyor in a manufacturing plant.



Fixed Speed Motor
Figure 1-1. Generic conveyor system

In Figure 1-1, we can see that the conveyor’s main intent is to move products from production to the warehouse. A typical way to move products is by means of a motor. The generic motor on this conveyor operates at only one speed. With only one speed of motion, this type of manufacturing system has its drawbacks.

The higher the motor’s horsepower (HP) rating. we may expect to see only 70% efficiency. We are locked into whatever efficiencies the motor can provide. and system coordination. the higher the efficiency. By strict definition. For now. Figure 1-3 indicates AC drive and motor efficiencies at various speeds. the more efficient that motor is. process changes and improvements. Typical AC motor efficiencies If the conveyor motor happened to be 1 HP.2 Motors and Drives The products can reach the warehouse only in a given timeframe. We will cover the physical makeup of AC and direct current (DC) motors in more detail in Chapter 3. the boxes may fall off the conveyor because of the accelerating forces. the more efficient the motor. the 1-HP AC conveyor motor would be operating at a 30% loss at 75–100% motor load. Rated Power) 95% (200HP) 90% (20HP) 85% (7. efficiencies vary as indicated above. typically. given a somewhat variable amount of loading. at 75–100% motor load.5HP) 80% (3HP) 75% (2HP) 70% (1HP) Motor Efficiency (%) 90 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 100 25 50 75 100 125 Motor Load (% of Rated Load) Figure 1-2. There is no way to gradually increase the conveyor speed. If it takes the motor a very short time to accelerate. . 2. Efficiency Gains We may view the system in Figure 1-1 as very inefficient. As seen in Figure 1-2. (% Efficiency = output power ÷ input power × 100). The more load on a motor. 3. the following would be true: 1. We will look at several factors that lead to the use of a variable-speed drive: efficiency gains. Efficiency at 100 % Rated Load (Approx. we will use an AC motor to explain the effects of efficiency on the total system. The higher the operating speed. If the motor in Figure 1-1 happened to be an alternating current (AC) motor.

Its 5–10% losses are attributed to thermal losses because of the alternating current’s switching of power devices several thousand times per second. A variable-speed system is often necessary to change production cycle times and increase capacity. Some manufacturing circumstances may require a slow speed. Figure 1-4 illustrates the same type of conveyor. If a fixed-speed motor is used. AC drive and motor efficiencies Figure 1-3 shows an example of a 2-HP system. A fixed system will not allow for changes in the process or production cycle. A manufacturer can operate the production equipment at the most efficient speed and load point—if drive and motor efficiencies are known. others. our efficiency of this constant torque (CT) system would be in the range of 80–90% when the conveyor is operated at 60% speed or higher. The same conveyor system is used in processes such as baking. Variable-speed output from a drive has a direct impact on the total system efficiency. a faster pace. if we added a variable-speed AC drive.Chapter 1: What is a Drive? 3 Motor Efficiency = cos phi = 0. . in a fixed system there is no way to vary the speed of the conveyor. In this example. with the addition of an industrial oven. Certain materials may require a longer baking cycle because of thickness. only one type of material could be processed in this system. It should be noted that the AC drive is an efficient means of varying the speed of an AC motor.83 (2 HP) 100 90 80 70 60 Efficiency 50 (% of 40 Rated Value) 30 20 10 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 VT drive CT System Drive & Motor Efficiency Motor Speed (% of Rated Speed) Figure 1-3. A conveyor is labeled a constant torque load and is indicated by a CT on the graphs. many companies require flexibility in manufacturing. Process Changes and Improvements As previously indicated. To stay competitive.

Figure 1-5 illustrates a conveyor system that is manually operated by a control station. Manually controlled conveyor system . An operator turns on the system and turns it off for maintenance or at the completion of the production cycle. Production Industrial Oven Warehouse Operator Station Fixed Speed Motor Figure 1-5. and size requirements. few processes are manually operated. Production cycles are constantly monitored by some type of computer system. Industrial oven used in production System Coordination The system shown in Figure 1-4 is typical of many manually operated processes. the use of PLCs (programmable logic controllers) is typical. in an age of increased flexibility requirements.4 Motors and Drives Production Industrial Oven Warehouse Fixed Speed Motor Figure 1-4. material density. Programmable logic controllers are beyond the scope of this book. In industrial processes. Computer systems will automatically oversee the process and correct for load fluctuations. but will be addressed at various points. However.

we will look at a variable-speed drive system—from a generic standpoint.Chapter 1: What is a Drive? 5 Programmable logic controllers work effectively in place of the manually controlled operator station. Automatic control of the motor could therefore be accomplished. A foundation will be built. we will start at the end of the system and move backward. Couplers may accept one diameter of motor shaft and convert the output to another size shaft. This is the heart of the system. Consider the machine—the application. mechanical. a packaging machine. We will devote individual sections of this book to each of the basic components listed in Figure 1-6. but only STOP and START control. Its basic task is to make a solid connection between the motor and the machine. All drive systems. Couplers come in all shapes and sizes. whether. have the basic parts indicated in Figure 1-6. since it ultimately needs to perform the work. torque and direction of the motor) (Changes one form of energy to rotating energy) (Connects the motor to the machine) (Device that performs the work) Figure 1-6. electronic. Machine The essence of any drive system is the application. in this case. a press. Variable-speed drives would be effective in providing the flexibility and control needed by motors to meet almost any application requirements. In . Coupler The coupler is the device that connects the machine to the motor. or fluid in nature. which will allow more complex concepts to be discussed in later chapters. Drive Principles of Operation At this point. or machine. Generic variable-speed drive system To understand a simple drive system. For now. or literally hundreds of applications that operate at variable speed. Power Source (Supplies power to the drive) Drive Machine Motor Coupler Controller (Generates and sends a reference to the drive) (Controls the speed. It could be a conveyor. the intent is to develop a basic understanding of a drive system.

Couplers could also be considered matching devices because of their ability to deliver power smoothly to the machine. which may include some type of speed-reducing or speed-increasing gears. To a certain extent. this device can also cushion shocks delivered by the motor to the machine. .6 Motors and Drives some cases. the coupler may actually be a device called a gearbox.

and electrical/electronic (eddycurrent coupling. a faster or slower speed is achieved with basically the same input power. In addition. For the most part. This brief look at drive technologies will assist you. The mechanical drive still gets its power source from an AC power supply—usually three-phase AC. Mechanical variable-speed drive As seen in Figure 1-7. Features and Principles In this section. Threephase AC is then fed to the fixed-speed AC motor. The types of drives we will consider are mechanical.Chapter 1: What is a Drive? 7 Types of Drives. and variable-frequency AC). we will also review the benefits and limitations of each type. Shifting gears causes the chain to slip into a wider. The pulleys are usually spring-loaded and can expand or contract in diameter by means of a hand crank (shown on the left side of the constant speed AC motor). electronic AC and DC drives find their dominance in manufacturing and commercial HVAC applications of today. The ability to vary the diameter of one or both pulleys gives this drive unit the ability to change its output speed (seen in the lower portion of Figure 1-7). . Figure 1-7 shows a basic mechanical variable-speed drive.or narrower-diameter sprocket. Constant Speed AC Motor Coupler Variable Speed Output Variable Diameter of the Pulleys Will Dictate Output Speed Figure 1-7. the mechanical drive operates on the principle of variable-pitch pulleys. DC converters. Mechanical Mechanical variable-speed drives were probably the first type of drive to make their way into the industrial environment. rotating DC. we will briefly review the different types of variable-speed drives used in industry. The principle of variable speed is exactly the same as the gears of a 15-speed bicycle. hydraulic. should you encounter any of these types in the future. When that happens.

The speed control comes from the control valve. The efficiency of the unit can range from 90% down to 50% or lower. and continue to be. Control Valve Constant Speed AC Motor Coupler Pump Hydraulic Motor Variable Speed Output Fluid Resevoir Figure 1-8. Size and weight could prohibit the use of this device in areas that would be required for mounting a drive. The pump builds up the necessary operating pressure in the system to allow the hydraulic motor to develop its rated power.8 Motors and Drives Years ago. Sometimes the speed range can be a limitation because of fixed diameter settings. the benefits of yesterday have turned into the limitations of today. the benefits of this type of drive were low cost and the ability to easily service the unit. This valve operates like a water faucet—the more the valve is open. a characteristic of the mechanics of the device. Note that this system uses a coupler to connect the AC motor to the pump. Figure 1-8 indicates a hydraulic drive. and the faster the speed of the hydraulic motor. it has a fairly simple control scheme (a valve). Hydraulic drive In Figure 1-8. the workhorse of many metals processing and manufacturing applications. the hydraulic motor’s size is 1/4–1/3 the size of an equivalent power electric motor. Many technicians liked to work on mechanical problems. a constant-speed AC motor operates a hydraulic pump. However. this device sometimes stood 3–5 feet tall for general applications. Hydraulic Drives Hydraulic drives have been. Mechanical devices have a tendency to break down—requiring maintenance and downtime. The malfunction was rather obvious. The benefits of this type of drive system is the ability of the hydraulic motor to develop high torque (twisting motion of the shaft). In addition. The hydraulic motor’s small size makes it ideal for situations where high power is needed in very tight locations. In fact. This is due to the eventual slipping of the belt on the pulleys (sometimes called sheaves). which operates at a wide . the more fluid passes through the system. Size can also be a limitation. Typically floor-mounted.

For . fittings. this type of system has several major limitations. which allows variable shaft speeds. This causes the input drum to operate at the same speed. The coupling field generates a magnetic field based on how much DC power is being produced by the DC exciter. In addition. However. depending on the amount of power converted. leading to high maintenance costs. Heat generation and power consumption are the major issues. Grinding wheels are prime candidates for eddy-current drives. How much power produced by the DC exciter is determined by the speed reference potentiometer (speed pot). This system is inherently prone to leaks. several limitations dictate where and how this type of system is applied. and fluid. However. Automatic valve-type controls have been developed. The function of the DC exciter is to convert AC power to DC power. but their use is limited in today’s high-speed manufacturing environment. The most limiting factor of this system is the need for hydraulic hoses. this type of system can produce regulated torque because of its ability to fairly accurately control the DC exciter. This power is then fed to the coupling field. Figure 1-9 indicates a simple eddy-current drive system. Eddy-current drive system As seen in Figure 1-9. an AC motor operates at a fixed speed. The benefits of an eddy-current system include initial cost and the simple control method (usually 1 speed pot). Figure 1-9. the more magnetic field is produced and the stronger the attraction of the coupling assembly to the input drum. This system uses an AC-to-DC power-conversion process. Eddy-Current Drives Eddy-current drives have their roots in the heavy machinery part of industry.Chapter 1: What is a Drive? 9 speed range and has an extremely small size compare to most AC motors of the same power. In addition. there is virtually no way to connect this system to an electronic controller. The more power produced.

heat is the by-product. Rotating DC variable-speed drive As seen in Figure 1-10.10 Motors and Drives the coupling assembly to magnetically couple to the input drum. a large amount of power must be produced. In this case. Compared with other types of variable-speed drives. Coupler Constant Speed AC Motor DC Generator Gen. Rotating DC Drives This system dates back to the mid 1940s. which stands for motor–generator set. Speed Reference (Pot) DC Motor Speed Reference (Pot) Field Exciter Motor Field Exciter Figure 1-10. The field magnetism interacts with the magnetism in the main circuit (armature) to produce rotation of the motor shaft. When power is produced. As seen in Figure 1-10. Size is also an issue when maintenance is required on the rotating machinery. the variable-speed system is more complicated than an eddy-current system. As will be shown later. the DC motor requires two circuits in order to operate properly. which is more costly than shipping the unit back to the repair location. Field Coils DC Motor Motor Field Coils Gen. Typically on-site repairs are required. the DC generator feeds power to the main circuit of the DC motor (called the armature). The DC motor also needs another circuit called the field. The constant-speed AC motor causes the DC generator to produce DC power. this type can be several times larger. The amount of power produced by the generator is dependent on the magnetic strength of the field exciter of the generator. The field exciter strength is determined by the position of the speed pot. The field exciter strength is determined by the position of the DC-motor speed pot. The system also gained the name M–G set. . and energy savings are not realized. The strength of the field magnetism depends on how much power is produced by the motor field exciter. that description is quite accurate. thereby limiting the locations where it can be mounted.

which transfer power from one circuit to the other. . and DC motor). three-phase AC power is fed to the drive unit. Figure 1-11 indicates the main components of a simple DC drive system. this system is prone to maintenance issues. This system is also larger than many of the other variable-speed units. compared with modern-day motors. It typically used motors and generator equipment that had a very large overload capacity. Electronic DC drive As seen in Figure 1-11. or thyristor. much like that of the rotating DC unit. vacuum tubes provided the power conversion technology. however. is now used in modern electronic DC drives. Typically. These devices need periodic replacement. DC equipment uses devices called brushes. Electronic Drives (DC) DC drives have been the backbone of industry. Because of the need for three rotating units (AC motor. The early units used a power conversion device called a vacuum tube (high-temperature electrical conduction). Vacuum tubes led to solid-state devices in the 1960s.) The drive unit uses SCRs to convert AC power to DC power. replacement parts are harder to find. 3 Phase AC Speed Reference (Pot) DC Drive DC Motor Motor Field Coils Motor Field Exciter Figure 1-11. The speed pot determines how much the SCRs will conduct power. the DC drive is basically a simple power converter. the more magnetic field is generated in the main DC motor circuit. the armature. At that time. DC generator.Chapter 1: What is a Drive? 11 This system has several benefits. a system of this type. three rotating units increases the maintenance required on mechanical parts. It contains two separate power circuits. This system also had the ability to control speed accurately and had a wide speed range. this equipment was very traditional equipment. The power conversion device. In today’s industrial environment. Today. (Note: Some small horsepower DC drives will accept one-phase power. dating back to the 1940s. meaning the machine needs to be shut down. called the silicon controlled rectifier (SCR). which is very difficult to acquire as a spare part. As to be expected. The more the SCRs conduct power. Years ago in the rotating machinery industry. would carry several limitations.

Because electronic technology is used.e. In addition. can also be connected to the drive. All AC drives take AC input. called a field. The motor field is usually kept at full strength. This type of remote control allows commands from distant locations in the building.. There are some definite benefits to a variable-speed drive system of this type. In this day of efficient power usage. except through connection of another DC drive. including an isolated speed reference and start/stop circuits. the DC drive’s varying power factor must be considered when planning any installation. The output frequency will determine how fast the motor rotates.12 Motors and Drives In a DC-drive system. The DC drive offers acceptable efficiency. the field will be weakened to produce a higher-than-normal speed. when comparing electronic DC-drive technology with AC technology. The strength of the magnetic field is determined by the separate motor field exciter. using a device called an inverter (i. Total operational costs (maintenance. although in some cases. and monthly operating costs) may be a limitation when comparing the DC system with the AC-drive system. Monitors such as speed and load meters and operating data circuits can be connected to illustrate drive operation. a wide variety of control options are available. inverts DC back to AC voltage). A remote operator station. there is no way to provide motor operation. We will go into further detail on DC-drive technology later in this book. and change DC to a variable AC output. several limitations should be considered. If the DC drive malfunctions. Another issue that is critical to many manufacturing applications is the need for back-up capability. The basic objective involved in an AC drive is to change a fixed incoming line voltage (V) and frequency (Hz) to a variable voltage and frequency output. DC motors need routine maintenance on brushes and the commutator bars. DC drives offer a small size power unit and comparable low cost in relation to other electronic drive technologies. when compared with other variable-speed technologies. The combination of volts and Hertz will dictate the amount of torque the motor will generate. For purposes of this section. . Figure 1-12 indicates a generic AC drive and its basic components. This mature technology has been available for more than 60 years. The interaction between the motor armature and field produces the turning of the motor shaft. As indicated in the rotating DC-drive section. Though each type differs in the way power is converted. installation. the end result is the use of a variable-speed AC induction motor. we will confine our discussion to a generic AC drive. or a permanent magnet. However. three types of AC drive technologies are currently available. Electronic Drives (AC) Basically. convert it to DC. Probably the largest issue with DC-drive systems is the need for maintenance on the DC motor. there is always a separate magnetic circuit.

torque . When compared with DC drives. Because of modern transistor technology. A filter circuit then cleans up the DC waveform and sends it to the output section. the size of the AC drive is equal to or even smaller than that of an equal horsepower DC drive (125–150 HP or less). With this type of variable-speed system. With low horsepower units (above the 25. section “Torque Control AC Drives” is devoted to flux vector and torque-controlled AC drives. there are more benefits than limitations. the installation costs may be less because of less wiring (there is no separate field exciter). The DC power is then filtered and changed back to AC power but in a variable voltage and frequency format. The motor will be operating at full speed because of the line power input. One major advantage of AC drives is the ability to operate an AC motor in bypass mode. we find that the AC drive essentially changes AC power to DC power. However. Comparable AC drives may need to be sized 1 or 2 HP frame sizes higher to accommodate the possible overload requirements. Chapter 4. essentially across line power. AC drives may carry a higher purchase price. More detail is presented on the issue of overload. Variable-speed AC drive When we look closer at the principles involved. These are special transistors that only turn on or turn off. Diodes change AC power to DC power. The output section then inverts the DC power back to AC. The efficiency of power conversion is comparable to that of DC drives. such as printing and extrusion. There may be a few limitations when considering AC drive technology. the motor can still be operating. small-sized AC drives are equal to or lower in cost (5 HP or less). The sequence and length in which these transistors turn on will determine the drive output and ultimately the speed of the motor. The front end section consists of diodes. This means that while the drive is not functioning.Chapter 1: What is a Drive? 13 Figure 1-12. But the benefit would be that the system continues to operate with little or no 30-HP range). Some applications. Also comparable is the ability to be controlled remotely and to have various monitor devices connected. lend themselves to DC technology. This is accomplished through a series of transistors.

controller. 7. so optimum product quality can be achieved. AC. from infeed rate to output of the machine. as well as process improvements. Name the categories of variable-speed drives and their principles of operation. The basic categories are mechanical. What are the two separate electrical circuits in a DC-drive system? What three principles are involved in the operation of an AC drive? . 2. No matter what type of system is discussed. 3. and electrical/electronic. Check Your Knowledge 1. Chapter Review There are various types of variable-speed drive systems. This also allows for quick changes in the process to meet the rigorous demands of production schedules. motor. coupler. process changes and improvements. efficiency of AC motors can be quite high. hydraulic. What is a drive? What are three reasons why variable-speed drives are used? Name three factors that cause the efficiency of an AC motor to improve. but basically they fall into three categories: efficiency gains. The trend today is moving away from mechanical and hydraulic types of variable-speed systems. Some processes operate at less than full speed. Today’s AC-drive technology can provide impressive response. 6. which reduces the overall monthly cost of operating the system. drive. Coordination of variable-speed drive systems in industry are typically controlled by what type of device? Name the basic parts and functions of a variable-speed drive system. rotating DC.14 Motors and Drives control. and AC/DC drive comparisons. Electronic drives can be further divided into the following categories: eddy current. For example. Today’s electronic drives offer easy connection to many types of automated equipment. A generic drive system includes the following components: machine. 4. 5. Each type of variable-speed drive system has its set of benefits and limitations. Variablespeed drives also allow for changes in the process. Computers control the entire process. and toward electronic systems. and power source. these main components are involved. Various types of variable-speed drives are available in industry. There are many reasons to use variable-speed drives. DC converters. System coordination is a major factor in today’s industrial environment.and DC-drive systems are typically applied in a manufacturing process. filling the application needs that traditionally used DC drives. and variable-frequency AC. 8. The reasons are again identified in the ability to control the process by computerized systems. and system coordination.