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Variable Frequency Drive Systems and Controls

Do you have ac motors in your facility? Do these motors need a variable output? Do you use mechanical means to vary the output? If you anwsered yes to these questions, you need to install variable frequency drives on these ac motors. If you are not using VFD's you are wasting energy and throwing money out the window. In the United States 50% of the total electrical energy generated is consumed by rotating equipment. 65% of this total is consumed by centrifugal or flow related applications such as fans, blowers, compressors, and pumps according to current estimates. Variable speed drive technology offers a costeffective method to match driver speed to load demands and represents a state-of-the-art opportunity to reduce operating costs and improve overall productivity. Joliet Technologies is an OEM that custom packages, integrates and engineers AC Variable Frequency Drives (VFD), DC Variable Speed Drives (VSD) and AC Drive Controllers. Our drive systems integrate top of the line manufacturers, like ABB, Emerson (Control Techniques & Saftronics / Fincor), Siemens and WEG to name a few. Our added value custom drive packages are built to your specifications for your application. What is a Variable Frequency Drive? You can divide the world of electronic motor drives into two categories: AC and DC, a motor drive controls the speed, torque, direction and resulting horsepower of a motor. AC drives control AC induction motors. DC drives typically controls a shunt wound DC motor, which has separate armature and field circuits. Motor drives are also known as DC Drives, AC Drives, SCR Drives (Silicon Controlled Rectifier Drive), Variable Frequency Drives, Variable Speed Drives, Adjustable Speed Drives, Electric Motor Drives, Electronic Motor Drives, AC Motor Controllers, AC Inverters, Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) Drives and a few other names. Which Drive is Right for your Application? The AC Variable Frequency Drive market is huge, due to the great advances in highly reliable AC power electronics and high power microprocessors. The Flux Vector AC Drive for example, can compete on an application basis that DC Drives would in earlier years be required. Even though AC Variable Frequency Drives are readily replacing DC Drives and motors, there is still a large base of DC equipment that has to be supported by experienced technicians. Joliet Technologies believes that by not abandoning the DC market we can better serve our customer base demands. For example, older machines with multiple exciting DC Analog drives and motors may be a great candidate for retrofitting newer digital DC drive equipment. Saving cost and down time. If your needs are much simpler and speed control is not part of the work scope. Joliet Technologies can provide Custom AC Drive Controllers consisting of contactors,

Panels can be designed by another OEM or we can help with engineering to specifications provided. DC Variable Speed Drive PROS Torque control and limiting CONS Brush life commutation maintenance. pushbuttons and PLCs. relays. AC Variable Frequency Drive PROS Improved efficiency Low motor maintenance CONS Distance limitations Large system designs (high HP drive foot prints) Cost (encoder feedback) Expensive regenerative braking Power system harmonics NA Wide speed range (under Motor high speed limit 5000 RPM) (high speeds use expensive gear boxes) Trimming capabilities Constant HP capabilities True 4-quadrant regenerative energy conversion Few distance limitations Cost (especially single phase sizes) Expensive large HP motors Power system harmonics NA Tight control Digital control High speed capabilities Reversing capability without extra power elements NA NA . Our engineers can provide all PLC and Peripheral Programming needs.starters.

Joliet Technologies can evaluate your current equipment and recommend either a Retro-Fit or System Replacement. Part 1 What is a VFD? By: Dave Polka . This is why we started this company. assuring you the highest quality. and at competitive rates. all in a timely fashion. in our effects to promote energy efficiency through the use of variable speed drives. Joliet Technologies is dedicated to provide the highest quality equipment and service. Many utilities are now offering rebates for the installation of VFD's or retro-fitting existing equipment with variable frequency drives. With our experience. If you are not using VFD's you are wasting energy and throwing money out the window. Contact your local utility or search VFD rebate or go to the DSIRE website. you will be completely satisfied with our workmanship and our work ethic. expertise and commitment. Nationwide energy reduction incentives. you can ensure your drives provide many years of trouble-free service. Industrial Control Panels & Industrial Control Panels Certified for Canada shop. How to Maintain a VFD Do you know how to maintain a VFD? Doing so is easier than you might think.Joliet Technologies Custom Panel Shop and On Site Retrofit Benefits We have the experience and know how to provide you with the best drive for your application. From system integration to panel fabrication Joliet Technologies provides quality systems and custom control panels for new applications or system upgrades. logical steps into your preventative maintenance program. What is a Variable Frequency Drive? How does a VFD Work? Do you have ac motors in your facility? Do these motors need a variable output? Do you use mechanical means to vary the output? If you anwsered yes to these questions. local. you need to install variable frequency drives on these ac motors. Joliet Technologies has partnered with Electrical Solutions Network (ESN). By integrating some simple. utility and federal incentives and policies that promote renewable energy and energy efficiency. Feel free to contact us with any drive questions you may have. All work is performed following our Quality Assurance System (based on the ISO9001:2008 Standard). Joliet Technologies is a UL (Underwriters Laboratories) 508A Certified. a comprehensive source of information on state.

AC drives control AC induction motors. direction and resulting horsepower of a motor. 2 shows the construction of an induction motor. A motor contains pole pairs. You could replace the 3-phase motor starter with Variable Frequency Drive (VFD) to operate the fan at variable speed. Figure 2.You can divide the world of electronic motor drives into two categories: AC and DC. Application As An Example Let's take a brief look at a drive application. To understand how a drive controls these two elements. Figure 1. Basic Induction Motor Construction . Fig. In Fig. wound in a specific pattern to provide a north to south magnetic field. Since you can operate the fan at any speed below its maximum. These are iron pieces in the stator. 1. work through magnetic interaction. and-like their DC counterparts-control speed. A motor drive controls the speed. which has separate armature and field circuits. torque. The two basic parts of the motor. Fixed Speed Fan Application A drive can control two main elements of a 3-phase induction motor: speed and torque. we will take a short review of AC induction motors. you can see a simple application with a fixed speed fan using a motor starter. torque. the rotor and stator. A DC drive typically controls a shunt wound DC motor. you can vary airflow by controlling the motor speed instead of the air outlet damper. and horsepower.

A drive provides many different frequency outputs.Figure 3. you get a new torque curve. An induction motor connected to a 460V. When a magnetic field passes through the conductors of the rotor. it never does -. These rotor magnetic fields will try to catch up to the rotating fields of the stator. This formula includes an effect called "slip. the rotor takes on magnetic fields of its own. As long as they don't catch up to the hare. However. we change the frequency. 60 Hz source has a ratio of 7.Slip 4 Figure 4. You could adjust motor speed by adjusting the number of poles. At any given frequency output of the drive. Operating Principles of Induction Motor With one pole pair isolated in a motor. . So. cost-efficiency.this difference is slip. and result in a step change to the speed. It would require rewinding. and precision. for convenience.67. but this is a physical change to the motor. they will continue to revolve around the track. As long as this ratio stays in proportion. Fig. Motor Slip: . the motor will develop rated torque. Slip is what allows a motor to turn. 5 shows the torque-developing characteristic of every motor: the Volts per Hertz ratio (V/Hz). Induction Motor Slip Calculation We can conveniently adjust the speed of a motor by changing the frequency applied to the motor. We change this ratio to change motor torque. The number of poles and the frequency applied determine this speed (Fig. 4)." Slip is the difference between the rotor speed and the rotating magnetic field in the stator.Slip 120 X F P Slip for NEMA B Motor = 3 to 5% of Base Speed which is 1800 RPM at Full Load Shaft Speed = F = Frequency applied to the motor P = Number of motor poles Example: Shaft Speed = 120 X 60 Hz . the rotor (shaft) rotates at a specific speed: the base speed. Think of slip as the distance between the greyhounds and the hare they are chasing around the track.

Figure 5. Fig. Figure 6. with subtle differences in hardware and software components. Basic PWM Drive Components . 6 shows a basic PWM drive. All PWM drives contain these main parts. Volts/Hertz Ratio What is a Variable Frequency Drive? How does a VFD Work? What is a VFD? (Part 1) By: Dave Polka Part 2 How Drive Changes Motor Speed Just how does a drive provide the frequency and voltage output necessary to change the speed of a motor? That's what we'll look at next.

You can calculate this as line voltage times 1.414. If you have many SCR (Silicon Controlled Rectifier)based drives in your facility. In a 460V unit. Switching Bus With IGBTs Today's inverters use Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistors (IGBTs) to switch the DC bus on and off at specific intervals. These diodes convert AC power to DC power. it does so in a variable voltage and frequency output. Conversely. Bipolar Transistor technology began superceding SCRs in drives in the mid-1970s. The input section of the drive is the converter. Figure 7. the lower the output frequency. . It contains six diodes.Although some drives accept single-phase input power. this section inverts the DC voltage back to AC. it provides voltage pulses that are at a constant magnitude. The inductor (L) and the capacitor (C) work together to filter out any AC component of the DC waveform. we'll focus on the 3-phase drive. the longer the power device is off. The next section-the DC bus section-sees a fixed DC voltage. arranged in an electrical bridge. see the Sidebar. those gave way to using Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor (IGBT) technology. The less time the power device is on.8). you'd measure an average DC bus voltage of about 650V to 680V. The smoother the DC waveform. As shown in Fig. the inverter actually creates a variable AC voltage and frequency output. But. In doing so. As the name implies. Drive Output Waveform The drive's control board signals the power device's control circuits to turn "on" the waveform positive half or negative half of the power device. The diodes actually reconstruct the negative halves of the waveform onto the positive half. How does it do this? That depends on what kind of power devices your drive uses. the lower the output voltage (shown in Fig. In the early 1990s. the higher the output voltage. the cleaner the output waveform from the drive. The longer the power device remains on. But to simplify illustrations. This alternating of positive and negative switches recreates the 3 phase output. the output of the drive doesn't provide an exact replica of the AC input sine waveform. which will form the basis for our discussion. The DC bus feeds the final section of the drive: the inverter. The DC Bus section filters and smoothes out the waveform. Instead. the waveforms in the following drive figures show only one phase of input and output. 7.

the typical drive of today doesn't spew gratuitous harmonics into your distribution system-nor does it affect your power factor. More features. higher switch frequencies decrease the efficiency of the drive because of increased heat in the power devices. IGBTs also require a control circuit connected to the gate. How to Maintain a Variable Frequency Drive? Many utilities are now offering rebates for the installation of VFD's or retro-fitting existing equipment with variable frequency drives. the cost and size of VFDs will continue to decrease. However. however. An SCR (originally referred to as a thyristor) contains a control element called a gate. Drives are increasingly becoming "plug and play. Thus. However. As you can imagine. Drive Output Waveform Components The speed at which power devices switch on and off is the carrier frequency. their performance and ease of use will only get better.Figure 8. Contact your local utility or search VFD rebate or go to the DSIRE website. but the designs continue to improve. a . The gate acts as the "turn-on" switch that allows the device to fully conduct voltage. also known as the switch frequency. The IGBT output also depends the length of time the gate is on. usually requiring another circuit board and associated wiring. you would approach troubleshooting differently if you have an SCR-based drive. switch frequencies are 250 to 500 times per second). (With an older. but this circuitry is less complex and doesn't require a reversal of polarity." As electronic power components improve in reliability and decrease in size. Sidebar: What if you have SCRs? With the large installed base of SCRs. The higher the switch frequency. The device conducts voltage until the polarity of the device reverses-and then it automatically "turns off. drives have dramatically improved in their reliability and ease of use. better performance. Unlike computers. it can turn off anytime in the control cycle. you might want to know how these operate. controls this switching." Special circuitry. The SCR's output depends on how soon in the control cycle that gate turns on. Shrinking cost and size Drives vary in the complexity of their designs. The trend is similar to that of the personal computer. the smoother the output waveform and the higher the resolution. Drives come in smaller packages with each generation. And also unlike computers. the higher the switch frequency. Typical switch frequencies are 3. the more resolution each PWM pulse contains.000 to 4.000 times per second (3KHz to 4KHz). While all that is going on. and lower cost with successive generations. SCR-based drive. providing a more precise output waveform.

A Quick Overview A VFD controls the speed. Drives that fall in the NEMA 1 category are susceptible to dust contamination. you can ensure your drives provide many years of trouble-free service. Let's look at each of these. From this description. torque and direction of an AC Induction motor. resulting in diminished performance from heat sinks and circulating fans (Photo 1). Joliet Technologies has partnered with Electrical Solutions Network (ESN).comprehensive source of information on state. keep it dry. Keep it Clean Most VFDs fall into the NEMA 1 category (side vents for cooling airflow) or NEMA 12 category (sealed. In very small VFDs. How To Maintain a VFD By: Dave Polka Do you know how to maintain Variable Frequency Drives (VFDs)? Doing so is easier than you might think. a single power pack unit may contain the converter and inverter. typically through a control board that dictates the firing of power components in the proper sequence. logical steps into your preventative maintenance program. And the same safety and equipment precautions you'd apply to a computer and to a power supply apply here. and keep the connections tight. Fairly involved control circuitry coordinates the switching of power devices. See Training Note "What is a VFD?" for a more detailed description of VFD concepts and operating principles. Dust on VFD hardware can cause a lack of airflow. utility and federal incentives and policies that promote renewable energy and energy efficiency. By integrating some simple. you can see a VFD is basically a computer and power supply. . Before looking at those steps. VFD maintenance requirements fall into three basic categories: y y y keep it clean. A microprocessor or Digital Signal Processor (DSP) meets all the internal logic and decision requirements. Nationwide energy reduction incentives. local. dusttight enclosure). let's quickly review what a VFD is and how it works. It takes fixed voltage and frequency AC input and converts it to a variable voltage and frequency AC output. in our effects to promote energy efficiency through the use of variable speed drives.

which also contributes to failure. The obvious result was water dripping from the dehumidifier into the drive. an area of the building required a dehumidifier close to the mechanical room. the VFD accumulated enough water to produce circuit board corrosion. dedicated. this is where the dehumidifier went. Dust absorbs moisture. In this example. Common plastics are prime generators of static electricity. To use compressed air for cooling. Discharging compressed air into a VFD is a viable option in some environments. Initially. The material in ESD vacuum cases and fans is a special. However. non-static generating plastic. as is often the case. Photo 2. Keep it Dry In Photo 2 you can see what happened to a control board periodically subjected to a moist environment. a well-meaning modification led to problems. Fan Injecting Dust into Drive Enclosure Dust on an electronic device can cause malfunction or even failure. And you still run the risk of generating electrostatic charges (ESD). Corrosion on Board Traces Caused by Moisture . Periodically spraying air through the heat sink fan is a good PM measure. you must use air that is oil-free and dry or you are likely to do more harm than good. In six months. dry area of a mechanical room and moisture was not a problem. this VFD was wall-mounted in a clean. are available through companies that specialize in static control equipment. Since wall space was available above the VFD. That requires a specialized. the VFD was a NEMA 1 enclosure style (side vents and no seal around the cover). These vacuums. and cans of non-static generating compressed air. Unfortunately. but typical plant air contains oil and water. and expensive air supply. A non-static generating spray or a reverse-operated ESD vacuum will reduce static build-up.Photo 1.

Loose control wiring connections can cause erratic operation. For example. A screw has maximum . machine damage. Heat cycles and mechanical vibration can lead to sub-standard connections. Arcing Caused by Loose Input Contacts Photo 4. Photos 3 and 4 show what can happen. as can standard PM practices. VFDs seldom offer this protection today. it violates basic mechanical principles and does more harm than good. If you operate the VFD all day every day. A loose speed reference wire can cause the drive speed to fluctuate. resulting in scrap.and the requirement applies even in clean rooms.A Screwy Practice Although "re-torquing" as a way of checking tightness is common in many PM procedures. Bad connections eventually lead to arcing. When the mercury dipped below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Photo 3. or personnel injury. clearing of input fuses. and further tightening an already tight connection can ruin the connection (see Sidebar). Retorquing screws is not a good idea. the software logic would not allow the drive to start. use a NEMA 12 enclosure and thermostatically controlled space heater if you locate it where condensation is likely. Arcing at the VFD input could result in nuisance over voltage faults.What about condensation? Some VFD manufacturers included a type of "condensation protection" on earlier product versions. Unless the unit is in continuous operation. or damage to protective components. a loose START/STOP signal wire can cause uncontrollable VFD stops. the normal radiant heat from the heatsink should prevent condensation. Keep Connections Tight While this sounds basic. Arcing Caused by Loose Output Contacts Re-torquing . checking connections is a step many people miss or do incorrectly . Arcing at the VFD output could result in over-current faults. or even damage to the power components.

If you have such voltage levels. Don't do this with the drive online with the process. Photos 5 and 6 show fan and capacitor stress problems. Note which screws were loose. though. Photo 5. Finally. or you may cause some very expensive process disturbances. 2. Either could be a sign of component stress or electrical misuse. as well as screw connections. Exceeding that torque value permanently reduces the clamping power of that screw by reducing its elasticity and deforming it. Foreign Object in Fan 3. . you can try retightening them. What about spare VFDs? Store them in a clean. Fluctuations in DC bus voltage measurements can indicate degradation of DC bus capacitors." This checks crimps. Loosening and then re-torquing still reduces elasticity. Most VFD manufacturers have a special terminal block for this type of measurement and also for connection of the dynamic braking resistors. Take voltage measurements while the VFD is in operation. you can expect power component failure. If they have merely worked loose. you may have transistor leakage. which still means a loss of clamping power. At zero speed. 4. As part of a mechanical inspection procedure. don't forget the "tug test. the power components should not be operating. you should read output voltage of 40VAC phase-to-phase or less. With the VFD in START and at zero speed. If they are loose again. What should you do? Use an infrared thermometer to note hot connections. dry environment. don't overlook internal VFD components. One function of the capacitor bank is to act as a filter section (smoothing out any AC ripple voltage on the Bus). Inspect DC bus capacitors for bulging and leakage.usually indicated by unusual noise or shafts that appear wobbly. Place this unit in your PM system so you know to power it up every 6 months to keep the DC bus capacitors at their peak performance capability. with no condensation allowed. Abnormal AC voltage on the DC bus indicates the capacitors are headed for trouble. Doing this to a lock washer results in a permanent 50% loss. Measurements more than 4VAC may indicate a capacitor filtering problem or a possible problem with the diode bridge converter section (ahead of the bus). and composition. If your readings are 60VAC or more. shape. and be sure to give them an IR check at the next PM cycle. replace them. Otherwise. If you read more than this. Additional Steps 1. their charging ability will significantly diminish. Check their torque. A capacitor is much like a battery-it needs to go into service soon after purchase or suffer a loss of usable life. Check circulating fans for signs of bearing failure or foreign objects . consult the VFD manufacturer before taking further action.clamping power at a torque value specific to its size.

on the roof of a building or in direct sunlight. Regularly monitor heat sink temperatures. Verify where this readout is. You wouldn't place your laptop computer outside. if you follow these simple procedures. Most VFD manufacturers make this task easy by including a direct temperature readout on the Keypad or display. which is basically a computer with a power supply. and make checking it part of a weekly or monthly review of VFD operation. . Some VFD manufacturers advertise 200. Such impressive performance is easy to obtain. Capacitor Failure 5.000 hours-almost 23 years-of Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF).Photo 6. A VFD. needs the same consideration. where temperatures could reach 115 degrees Fahrenheit or as low as -10 degrees Fahrenheit.