Can soft starters create shaft voltages similar to VFD’s?

We recently evaluated a 500 HP 4 pole motor on a pump application. The motor is started with a soft starter. Upon examination of the bearings we discovered fluting inside both the variable frequency drive and opposite drive end bearings.
If it were shaft currents, especially on a pump, the fluting would be typically on the non-drive end only, excess shaft current would be drained through the apparatus attached to the drive end shaft. We would more likely suspect a vibration issue with the assembly while inactive. What is base condition for the pump? Is it on a stable foundation or is it mobile? If mobile, and transported you need to "lock" the shaft to avoid axial or radial motion.
PAM winding is still a feasible alternative to VFD where simply two or three discrete speeds are necessary without the need for servo-like control, mostly for high power applications as was mentioned above. Only several extra leads and contactors but no nasty harmonics, reduction of insulation life and no additional variable frequency drive that takes space & is not cheap to buy or maintain, might become obsolete and most likely will not last as long as the motor.
Note that some shaft couplers are insulating; and therefore, won't drain shaft voltages.

However, all of the soft starters that I have used are line (mains) frequency phase angle modulating. Hence they act as three phase variacs (variable autotransformers). I have not run across any stray voltage problems with these units. However, some soft starters modulate only two of the three phases. I don't know what this will cause.

Regarding VFD's, three steps are needed to protect the motor: 1) High enough winding voltage withstand voltage (dielectric strength), 2) Adequate thermal capability to counter the extra (5% or so) winding heading due to the harmonics, and 3) protecting the bearings from developed stray voltage (grounding, bypassing or insulating).

A soft starter is in the circuit for so short a time, it is not likely that the fluting is coming from the drive. My logic is that fluting is a low current long time event. Bearing damage that could occur from the very short and very infrequent duration of starting would have to be a very high energy (for that short time), and would more likely be pitting.

In evaluating all possible sources:
There have been instances where the external current is coming from the plant piping. This would be eliminated by insulating the piping from the pump (if a flanged connection, use an insulative gasket [no metal fibers or rims], and plastic sleeves & washers for the bolt set).

Other motor related sources: the API motor specs say to insulate one end where the shaft voltage exceeds 500 mV. This can be done many ways, and usually done on the non drive end. (Have you measured the shaft voltage?)

I am not a big fan of shaft grounding brushes, and grounding the plant piping may not be enough. Brush contact is not reliable, and may not drain all the current (same for grounding the pipe).

Anecdotally: an electric utilitie had system grounding problems that elevated the potential of "ground" in a dairy. The path to lowest potential was through the cow to the milking machine to "ground". Milk production went down, it took a while for the farmer to get the utility to check their system. Finally they did, fixed the transmission system grounding, and the problem disappeared.

By |May 26th, 2016|Iacdrive_blog|0 Comments

Frequency inverter with AC line reactor or DC choke?

Is it AC line reactor more important than DC choke in a frequency inverter? If AC line reactor is missing in the inverter, what are possible impacts to the inverter? And how about DC choke?
Quality frequency inverters incorporate either an AC Reactor or DC Reactor (choke). Their inclusion in the basic design of the frequency inverter allows the design engineer to maximize the advantages of the choke. Their function is to reduce the current distortion caused by the input stage rectifiers by slowing the rate of change of current, and thus charging the internal capacitor at a slower rate over a longer time.

The Harmonic Distortion caused by a frequency inverter is related to its size & load, choke size, and the supply network parameters.
With no AC Reactor or DC Choke, the harmonic distortion will be greater.

Another consideration should be a properly sized source transformer that provides enough impedance. The sized source transformer used as an isolation transformer (although a bit more of an investment) should provide 3 to 5% impedance yet also provides Voltage Transient mitigation with ten to one reduction in impulse peaks, as well as noise reduction through the use of a Delta primary to Wye secondary with center tap ground. It provides additional protection for the frequency inverter front (Converter) end while proper ground of the Source to inverter, frequency inverter to Motor and Motor to Voltage Source assists in mitigating high frequency noise, especially when flat braid is used as the grounding straps. This protects your investment and assists in keeping the variable frequency inverter from generating noise into the supply that can compromise your nearby instrumentation, and PLC power supplies, etc. As well you can tap up the transformer giving you a higher input voltage mitigating the voltage drop issues resulting from the higher impedance.

The DC link assists in mitigating DC Bus Ripple and increasing the input impedance enabling a slower inrush for power on and sudden demand current requirements furthering the life of your capacitors, while a sized supply transformer protects the front end of the frequency inverter drive by providing voltage noise protection and adding input impedance for smoother current and adding a capability to change taps to prevent a voltage drop, while input reactors slow inrush current furthering the life of your input components and capacitors but add no protection from Voltage impulses or noise to the drive converter components, and add voltage drop increasing stress on those components. The important thing to remember is that "Proper" systemic design protects your frequency inverters and system components investment.

By |May 26th, 2016|Iacdrive_blog|0 Comments

DC link fault in 3 phase frequency inverter

Our one frequency inverter which drives 0.37 KW 400 V dosing pump motor intermittently (once in a month or once in two months) shows DC link fault and the speed is reduced to zero. This motor used to do changeover weakly. Pump NO: 1 never has such problem, pump NO: 2 only have this problem. We checked the motor found OK, checked the control circuit found ok, replaced with same new inverter still the same problem comes. We thought of incoming power supply problem so we swapped power supply cable from motor 1-2 but still the DC link fault comes in pump NO: 2. Then some of our experts said it is because the inductor is connected in the circuit, once remove the inductor this fault will not come again. But after removal of the inductor also same problem comes. From the previous history of work orders we found that this motor is a rewound motor, before rewinding there was no fault history at all. This motor is running always perfectly without any faults in manual control. Fault comes only in automatic control.
Could you please tell me what is the real problem?
Is it because of rewinding of the motor; winding geometry might have changed that affects the frequency inverter?
If this is the problem then why this fault is not coming whenever it is in service? (It waits for 1month or two months some time the fault comes in a weak also)
Is that the inverter will cause any problem because the inductor is in disconnected condition?
What is exactly the DC link fault and what are the reasons it can come in the inverter?
Why the DC link fault comes in when it is in automatic operation only?

Have you compared the good unit to the bad unit?
Could there be any mechanical issues loading the motor?
Check that the current level on the bad motor is the same as the good motor.
It sounds as if the rewind data is not correct and the motor is taking high current. If the rewind data is correct the core loss may be high.

The procedures you have gone through would indicate that the motor is the issue. My advice would be to go to the OEM and purchase a new motor or if it is a standard motor your regular supplier should be able to supply them. It could even be beneficial to purchase two new motors and keep the existing good one as a spare.

By |May 26th, 2016|Iacdrive_blog|0 Comments

Induction motor noise level

The noise level created by the motor at any speed is in a fixed environment, take two motors same HP, Speed, Enclosure, and the applied voltage could be a factor of the noise, the installed conditions of a 1000 motors could vary from alignment to load, to piping connected to load, to actual load.

What are you or the customer looking for? One 5 HP motor versus another 5HP motor, one in a 50,000 sq foot plant, the other in a 500 square foot plant, while the motor under ideal isolated test conditions might be X, the noise generated from the motor in different conditions could be blamed on the motor.

Would be interested in the question broken down to specific reasons/needs. I know very few who shop based on noise at particular speeds, most either accept the sound levels, which range from pitch to volume to whatever, as an irritant.

Often shielding of the motor can contain any noise that might be a factor in other areas around the motor.

I am not a manufacturer of motors, except for the modification of specialty applications. For example we changed out several hundred motors for the National Weather Service contained in a dipole antenna body. Existing motor was a single phase permanent split capacitor synchronous motor, 110 volt, 1800 RPM DESIRED, due to a feedback tachometer mounted on the motor to verify the speed as these receivers accepted upper air feedback of weather conditions, from weather balloons launched two to three times a day. Location and tracking of the balloons were critical, if the tach feedback was off by one rpm [from 1800] the tracking electronics could not deal with the inconsistency.

I attempted to purchase motors for this application, but because the motor was mounted vertically in a solid cone, no ventilation, plus they were single phase, with induction synchronous rotors, voltage was a consideration, and the units were mounted from Hawaii to Guam to Florida, across the US and Territories.

I took the existing single phase PSC SYNCH MOTOR, which few ever had the torque, or would stay at 1800 rpm, or fail do to the heat.

While they only needed around 300 plus active motors, they needed half as many as spares, considering the past history of failures and the lack of ability to deliver accurate timely weather data over an exact path.

It was not a case of excessive NOISE, it was a case of perceived sound, it sounded different, so for those involved with any Governmental Agency knows that form, fit, function is their mantra and excuse to not accept anything.

We had several complaints of noise, turns out the noise was in no way a danger or at levels of any concern, just different.

While testing 4. 6. 8. 2 pole motors for "noise" in a controlled environment, is only data from those conditions, out in the wild west, those conditions are going to change, mounting, structure, all explained above will affect the motor's "noise" levels, or perceived "noise" levels.

In the fact that no load, [NEMA] testing is not going to be exacting as other possible more exacting, different parameter type testing, if noise is a concern, is under full load, which again is a variable.

How many vanilla NEMA motors ever operate at "full load"?

Many run below the full load capacity, let alone service factor capacity, some operate slightly overloaded, few ever see the exact applied voltages, with changing of applied voltages during seasonal or daily changes in many variables effecting voltage supply.

By |May 26th, 2016|Iacdrive_blog|0 Comments

Motor babbitt bearings

Babbitt Bearings, properly cared for and maintained will last much longer than anti-friction bearings. Properly set up and aligned there is no contact between the babbitt and the journal other that a scuff mark at the bottom that is caused by minimal contact at starting. As long as the motor is properly aligned to the load, the oil is kept clean and continually fed to the bearing the bearing will last a very long time. There are two simple checks that should be done to check if all is well on Babbit Bearings. The first one is oil sampling. Cheap insurance which will tell you what contaminants are in the oil. The second one is an annual check on the air gap at the bottom of the motor. If the air gap is found to be getting smaller your bearings are wearing.

Babbitt bearings are normally found in larger motors and almost always in direct coupled applications.
In high speed motors the replacement of anti-friction bearings is essential every 1-2 years depending on the severity of the application. It is not uncommon to find a 2-pole Babbit Bearing motor, 20 years old or more with the original bearings. These motors can be overhauled and the windings cleaned up on a regular basis but the original bearings are re-installed.
Babbitt bearings are also affected by shaft currents and we often find a NDE babbitt bearing insulated from the housing.
Babbitt Bearings are also much quieter than anti-friction bearings. Another area where sleeve bearings are very common is in the fan motors in home furnaces. If ball bearings were installed in these motor you would get and annoying clicking sound coming through your ductwork. The bearings in these motors are not made from babbitt, there are made form an oil-bronze material.

Babbitt Bearings are much more expensive than anti-friction bearings and you can't buy them off the shelf like a 6316. If they are worn, (normally because of mis-aligniment or lack of proper lubrication), they need to be re-babbitted. For a high speed motor with a 3" journal the re-babitting can cost in the region of $1,200.00 to $2,000.00 per bearing.

When a new motor is being purchased it will cost much more with Babbitt Bearings than it will wit anti-friction bearings and users should be aware that, in the event of a bearing failure, it will not be a 2-3 day turn around on the motor.

Babbit bearings have an initial high cost but properly looked after they are more economical over a long period of time.

By |May 26th, 2016|Iacdrive_blog|0 Comments

Reduce cost of single and three induction motor

First you must optimize the design for the application. This is true for the electromagnetic and mechanical design. If you are making a general purpose motor then this will be more challenging because you will have to compromise to meet a variety of requirements. But the process is the same. You can design by hand using knowledge and experience or, better you can use the numerous design tools, many of which have perimetric design, variable ranges or optimization methods.
To evaluate your designs you need a cost equation. You simply multiply the weight of material and the cost or relative cost of the materials. Can you reduce the amount of the most expensive materials by making better use of the less expensive ones. Often you can.

With a similar approach you can review the mechanical design and you must be aware the these two activities can become intertwined. It is understanding this tight interrelationship that makes a good machine designer. So you must ask are you using the materials effectively? If for example you have poor cooling, optimization of the electromagnetic design will not get you to the lowest cost machine. Don't forget about fan design, air flow, thermal transfer and similar items. Mechanical also involves the amount of material in the parts. Can the amount of material be reduced and still maintain strength? And so on...

Finally you look at presses. First are your processes themselves reducing the effectiveness of the materials. Poor processes show up in high stray losses, high iron and copper losses. Do you have a good die casting process? What is you vendor doing? Do the know and how can they help you. And sometimes you should ask them how you can help them. If you design is hard to make well, who's fault is that. Look at winding, excessive material? Insulation, to thick or thin? Do you have good contact between stator and housing?

That is no one thing that gets to a low cost design. It is like playing sports, you have to learn the fundamentals and execute them well. Once you do that, then you can look at automation, more exotic processes and materials. It is a great team project. Pull together someone with sales, electromagnetic, mechanical, and manufacturing process experience and have a go at it. It is great fun and exciting. You will be surprised at what you will find.

By |May 26th, 2016|Iacdrive_blog|0 Comments

Motor testing and repairing

Are you having noticeable performance problems with these motors? The size and type of motor are critical as mentioned, a cast rotor with the right testing can pick up voids in the bar and resistance rings, not necessarily a problem as most mass produced cast bar rotors will have some sort of voids in the bars, and the motors are fine, the red flag comes up when using these black box tests, which picks up what appears to be a problem but is actually just a normal condition from the manufacturing process.

I have very little faith that any one test on an assembled motor, can tell the user everything about the condition of the internals, or health of the motor.

When you consider all the testing the health field can use, such as a full body scan, many times it leads to false alarms and more expensive testing.

I could ask a few dozen questions on the age, type, past testing, past history of the motors in question, but if you are basing the health or life expectancy of any motor by only the use of testing without a visual of the internals of a motor, those questions need to be addressed to the supplier of the testing equipment.

I believe in predictive maintenance, by vibration charting, insulation value testing, surge testing, all charted and plotted over time.

When you have insulation values at 100 megohms in March, and then 500 in July, it is likely the ambient conditions have effect on the readings. Dependent on the ambient conditions and area the motors are located, humidity in March is gone in July. So plotting the readings over time will give a plot to see if the trend is downward regardless, or it could be the readings in March are fairly constant, the readings in July are constant, but there is no downward plot of the insulation value.

When you get insulation values in March of 100 megohms, and again in July but the megger readings are now 60, then a user would want to decrease the time between testings, starting with say quarterly, once you develop a plot, if that plot changes downward, then it is time to test maybe even weekly as it may show some kind of insulation breakdown, or contaminates that would call for a visual inspection and possible cleaning/repair of the motor.

Same with plotting surge tests.

Same with plotting vibration testing.

But the answers to these questions where the test results are confusing at best, need to be addressed to the testing equipment provider.

I have yet to see any demonstration of a total motor health testing device, that did not have some caveat dependent on the speed or other design factors of particular motors.

Maybe these tests were not confusing prior to now, if so, I doubt two identical motors would fail/start to fail with the same exact type of problem.

Again I could ask a dozen questions such as are the motors new, is this the first time you have results that make no sense, and as much of the total history of the motors and testing programs you have in place.

When it comes to rotors, testing is critical, and often when problems are found with the motor, and all testing points to the rotor, often simply repairing the rotor will not resolve the problem.

In speaking with many engineers over several decades, a large manufacture of large electric motors, have decided once a rotor is identified as the problem, rebarring, or any single repair is usually unsuccessful, and their procedure is to scrap the rotor completely.

By |May 26th, 2016|Iacdrive_blog|0 Comments

VFD external electromagnetic inductive interference

If there are interference sources around the variable frequency drive, they will invade into the filter on variable frequency drive input side to reduce high harmonics, thereby to reduce the noise impact from the power lines to the electronic equipment; and install radio noise filter on VFD output side to reduce its output line noise for the same.

By |May 26th, 2016|Iacdrive_blog|0 Comments

Design a PMSM to 10000 rpm high speed

Synchronous speeds are a function of the applied frequency and the number of poles, governed by the equation

120 * (frequency in hertz) / (poles) = (speed in rpm).

Adjust the ratio of frequency to poles to achieve the desired speed.
(example: a 4-pole design would require a line frequency of 333.33 Hz ... which means operating on either an adjustable speed drive or on a dedicated high-frequency power system.)

Once you've got the electro-magnetics sorted out, it's a matter of manufacturing to the mechanical constraints associated with the rotational speed.

Well, depending on the power rating, and on the required reliability, I believe it's very simply. The biggest problem would be to get a variable frequency drive, or other power supply to provide a 3-phase output frequency of about 500Hz.
An automotive alternator should be able to operate relatively reliably at your required speed, and it can probably deliver around 1.5kW at that speed.
In order to make it permanently magnetised, we just have to disassemble the rotor, take the rotor windings out, and replace them with some ring-shaped permanent magnet. We may possibly also use a number of individual smaller permanent magnets embedded in some non-magnetic material such a copper or aluminium between the two half-shelves of the rotor. Depending on the construction of the alternator, we may need some machine shop to pull the rotor halves apart, perhaps machine some material away to make room for the permanent magnet(s), and to press the assembly back together again, and to balance it afterwards.

By |May 26th, 2016|Iacdrive_blog|0 Comments

What’s PG card in variable frequency drive?

PG is short for Pulse Generator, generally it is used for measuring rotational speed. The most common PG card is optical encoder.
PG card is a part of vector variable frequency drive, to convert the encoder different form signals to suitable for the controller, like: electrical level conversion, analog digital conversion, optical isolation, etc.
Vector control variable frequency drive is a high-performance drive which can be comparable with DC converter.
In the vector control, it requires a motor speed feedback to the variable frequency inverter drive, this speed feedback is achieve by adding a rotary encoder (PG) to the motor, which means PG card feedback vector control VFD. In order to simplify the system, the feedback can be formed by operation of the inverter output signal, this control is called none PG card feedback vector control VFD, the performance has a slight gap than PG card feedback, but configuration is simple.

By |May 26th, 2016|Iacdrive_blog|0 Comments