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Cable length between VFD and Motor | Iacdrive

The dU/dt at the output of the variable frequency drive combined with the motor cable length will result in very high voltage peaks at the motor terminals. This is a concern for the isolation in motors not designed to be driven by VFDs.
On the other hand the maximum motor cable length depends also on the switching frequency used due to the charging effect of the motor cable capacitance (this is a limitation on the variable frequency drive side, not on the motor isolation).
The dU/dt at motor terminals normally is very different from the dU/dt that you can calculate from IGBT and its driving characteristics (turn on time, gate resistor, etc) at variable frequency drive terminals. As the cable acts like a distributed LC impedance, the dU/dt calculation on VFD terminals will give you very high values that can be apparently dangerous, but in practice, will not happen at motor terminals.

For long cables, the combination of cable impedance, high frequency input impedance of motor and VFD switching frequency can lead to reflection of voltage pulses that gives origin to large voltage overshoots on motor terminals. The problem increases as increasing switching frequency because the time between voltage pulses will be smaller, so, a voltage pulse reaching the motor will add to the pulse being reflected. This “double pulsing” can results in extreme voltage overshoot and dU/dt that will result in motor insulation failures. For the variable frequency drives side the increasing switching frequency will be a problem (besides power losses) if you have a big capacitor filter at converter output, that can lead to high current pulses at inverter side.

The determination of the resulting dU/dt at motor terminals from the dU/dt at VFD drive terminals is very difficult if you try to use simulations. For this task you’ll need the high frequency parameters of cables (that also depends on installation details) and motor, that will not be available from standard datasheets and are very difficult to obtain from measurements. In practice almost all VFD manufacturers make extensive measurements and establish some criteria in order to orient applications. The approach is to determine if it is necessary or not to have an output filter for a known application (cable length).

For instance, a common specification is:

For cable lengths up to 100 meters (and motor suitable for variable frequency drive applications) it is not necessary a filter; for lengths from 100 to 200 meters, a series reactance can be used; for greater lengths it is necessary an LC filter at VFD terminals. The limit lengths can be different from different manufacturers and voltage levels (LV/MV). Iacdrive, for instance, can give complete orientation for application of its drives considering the needed cable length for the application.

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

Choose PLC base on top PLC Brand?

Always the top brands will be the most popular PLC and over many years it is my opinion that this is because of their marketing strategy, history, reputation and worldwide acceptance more than any other reasons. This does not mean they are better or worse in any way, just means they are more accepted world wide and more people are experienced with their software. Thus there is some security for the owner in respect to programmer support or future resources etc (people come, people go) and a basis on which management may dictate what hardware is used. There is also the consideration on the capital outlay for programming software which can be very expensive.

Choice most often depends on your application and infrastructure. Example: if an entire factory or whatever was "x-brand" and communicating with each other through "y-protocol", it may be wise to keep to the same-same. Other brands PLC may talk same protocol but then you need to think about software and the experience of your programmer resources,  spares etc.

The alternative may be a more task or machine specific PLC that can communicate the same protocol but at the cost of the programmer not knowing the device or software, or the costs of additional software and also there may be less skilled programmers in this hardware choice constricting the owners future options in using this alternative.

Experienced programmers fall into two basic categories. Just like Joe-Builder who has had 25yrs experience - now Joe, was that 25years experience doing different things or was that 1years experience 25 times? I have encountered this so often, fantastic CV but doesn't know anything because has been in same job, day in day out, year after year. Very good at THAT job mind you but no real (other) world experience. PLC programmers are often the same, know x-plc (or software language) inside out but nothing else.

Just my opinion but a good programmer is someone skilled in ladder logic, functions / function blocks, structured text, CRC etc and knows when to use it. Someone also familiar with the hardware and its associated costs. Someone who knows how the hardware device scans and can makes efficient use of its resources through the above mentioned skills. Someone also who is mind-full of who will maintain / modify and what can be modified and what should not... etc. Bit of a mouth full I know, but such a person can then make choices of hardware based on the end result required and not be constrained in his/her thinking based on what already exists or what they themselves know or what they or their management consider to be the current reality.

So, a long story to ask another question. Are you really asking which is the most popular brand PLC because a quick google search using the a brand name would tell you that in seconds based on the number of millions of pages available for THAT brand or are you asking which PLC should you choose?

As further comment...
Today I would go task specific by choice. If you want ultra speed, complex math or fast analogue and. or heavy processing etc... then you are looking at a soft logic PLC that will talk the same protocol as the other PLC's in the factory. If the task is simple logic and minimal analogue and does not require ultra fast scan times (i.e. 10ms+ is acceptable) then many top brands offer a range that will do this.

There are many things you can do in ladder logic that will satisfy a situation admirably. There are lots of things you can do in structured text that is impossible / impractical to do in ladder logic. All soft-logic PLC's I have experienced are totally useless at complex ladder logic. This is WHY I choose by what the task requires as opposed to choosing because of what constrains my current reality thinking or comfort zone.

The end result is a functional task, machine or project that is maintainable - not what a particular

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

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

Question:
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?

Answer:
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

SCR broken failure in soft starter

SCR's are limited to a maximum current rating, as well as a maximum voltage rating. In addition, the number of starts per hour is also limited. A combination of voltage spikes, too many starts per hour, or too much current during a start will destroy a soft starter. Phase imbalance for either voltage or current will cause an SCR to fail, as will a single phase condition on a 3-phase motor. What also needs to be considered is the load being started. If it is a high starting torque load it may require a heavy duty version of soft starter to get it going.

SCRs rarely "break" but they do short out, or rather, become full time conductors. The only thing that can cause this is excess tightening torque or clamping pressure. If on the other hand that the soft starter is giving an indication that one SCR is shorted, then that is where the comments from Terence Smith come to play. It will be either a voltage spike, a current spike, or excess heat caused by excessive starting current or starts per hour.

But reactors will not really help and will increase the throughput losses in the soft starter, I would not waste time on that. Starting a spinning motor is not an issue with soft starters either. Both of these are potential issues with VFD, totally different animal.

If the SCR fault covers the unbalanced starting current too, there is another possibility. At the motor connection box, on the side of the motor there are 6 bolts with screws, for connecting cable, star-delta cooper sheets, and motor coils. The lowest places on the bolt are the clamps of the motor coils, which is followed by a bolt. Over this bolt there are the star-delta sheet, bolt, cable connection clamp and upper the 3-rd bolt. In many cases the lowest screw, at the coil clamp is not tight enough. The maintenance electricians never check them, because it doesn't belong to the cable installation. In many cases they occurred output phase fault in inverters and phase faults in soft starters.

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

Voltage transient/inrush current in induction motors

The voltage transient which occurs whenever there is a sudden change in current in an inductive device. Inductors resist a sudden current change.

V=L di/dt

In electric motors this occurs at start up when the contactors close and shut down when the contactors open. Soft starters reduce the start up transient, but not the shutdown transient.

This also occurs with variable frequency drives which switch the current rapidly and repeatedly.

Voltage transients of 2 to 5 times line voltage are common. This is a primary reason for failure of weakened motor insulation systems. Test standards require high voltage Hipot and Impulse testing of insulation systems in order to ensure that a motor can withstand these transients.
Inrush is something we have always had to deal with, especially with motors that are direct on the line start. The inrush can be as high as seven times the nameplate current. The damage created can be minimal if the motor is started up in the morning and them runs all day.

A motor that runs on a There is one situation that creates a huge inductive spike. Take a motor, lets say it is driving a fan, and it is coasting to a stop. The operator decides to push the start button while it is still coasting. It is a misconception that because the motor is already in motion that you will reduce the starting inrush. You will cause more damage to the insulation system by doing this than you could ever imagine.

The inrush current at start-up for a motor is not an inductive spike. In fact, the small inductance in a motor winding is a slight impedance to the inrush (hence the term), though very slight unless it is a high inductance winding.
An inductive spike is the spike that occurs when voltage is quickly switched between windings. The inductance will not allow current to change instantaneously and must go somewhere.
Changing voltages when the motor is moving because the inductance is an energy storage device. If you reverse voltage on a winding in a permanent magnet motor while the motor is active, the voltage on the winding is momentarily doubled, in theory, but the released energy in the winding can cause huge spikes when the back EMF is no longer opposed by the applied voltage, etc.

Variable frequency drive power anomalies

Variable frequency drive power anomalies can be divided into following three types: phase loss, low voltage and power off, sometimes they maybe appear mixed. The main reasons for these anomalies are transmission line impact by wind, snow and lightning, sometimes it's the power supply system appear ground wire and phase short circuit. The lightning is very different due to geographical and seasonal factors. In addition to voltage fluctuations, some power grid or self-generation units will have frequency fluctuations, and these phenomena maybe appear repeated in short times, in order to ensure normal operation, the variable frequency drive power supply also need to make corresponding requirements.

If there is a direct-start motor or cooker or other equipment near the variable frequency drive, to avoid voltage decrease when these devices power on, those devices power supply should be separated with the VFD power supply to reduce influence each other.

For the applications require continues operation in instantaneous power off, in addition to select appropriate VFD drives, we also need to consider the motor load deceleration ratio. When the variable frequency drive and external control loop are adopted instantaneous power off compensation, we need to prevent over current during acceleration by detect motor speed when power on.

For the application requires continuous operation, it's better to install additional automatic switching uninterrupted power supply devices. Like adopt diode input and single-phase control power variable frequency drives, it can continue work even if in phase loss status, but individual rectifier device current is too high, and the capacitor pulse current also high, it's not good for the variable frequency drives reliability and service life in long time running, so we should handle it the early the better.

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

Variable frequency drive main circuit failure analysis

Variable frequency drive includes main circuit, power circuit, IPM drive and protection circuits, cooling fan and other several parts. The structure is mostly unitized or modular. Incorrect or unreasonable setting will cause the VFD malfunction and failure easily, or can't meet anticipated operation effect. As a precaution, careful analysis before the failure is particularly important.

Variable frequency drives main circuit mainly consists of three-phase or single-phase bridge rectifier, smoothing capacitor, filter capacitor, IPM inverter bridge, current limitation resistors, contactors and other components. Many common failures are caused by the electrolytic capacitors. The electrolytic capacitor life is determined by the DC voltage and the internal temperature on the capacitor both sides, the capacitor type is confirmed during the circuit design, so, internal temperature inside the electrolytic capacitor is critical important. Electrolytic capacitor will affect the variable frequency drive life directly, generally, temperature increase 10 ℃, VFD life reduce a half. Therefore, on one hand, considering proper ambient temperature in installing, on the other hand, reduce ripple current by taking some measures. Adopt power factor improved AC/DC reactors can reduce ripple current, thereby extend the electrolytic capacitor life.

During variable frequency drive maintenance, usually it's relative easy to measure the electrostatic capacity of to determine the capacitor deterioration, when the electrostatic capacity is less than rated 80%, insulation impedance is below 5 MΩ, it needs to replace the electrolytic capacitors.

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

Soft starter VS variable frequency drive

Soft Starter reduces electric motor starting current to 2-4 times during motor start up, reduces the impact to power grid during motor start up, avoid the motor being burned out, and provide protection in motors running process.

Variable Frequency Drive allows the electric motor smooth start up, control startup current growing from zero to motor rated current, reduce impact to the power grid and avoid the motor being burned out, also provide protect in  motor running process. Besides these functions, the main function of variable frequency drive is adjusting the motor running speed according to actual operation conditions, to achieve energy saving effect.

So, from the function side, variable frequency drives are much better than soft starters.

One essential difference between a soft starter and a VFD in this regard is, that the VFD delivers "nearly" sinusoidal voltages (and currents) to the motor, which makes it possible to develop high starting torques during the acceleration, even higher than nominal full load torque, depending on the application, while a soft starter only supplies fractions of the basic waveform, which serves to reduce the current to the motor significantly, but still at the nominal frequency. This will reduce the available starting torque dramatically until the motor is up to around two-thirds of nominal speed, or maybe even higher.

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