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Variable frequency drive cooling fan maintenance

Variable frequency drive cooling system mainly includes heat sinks and cooling fans, wherein the cooling fan service life is short. The fan generates vibration, noise increases and finally stops when approaching end-life, then the VFD drive tipped in IPM overheat. The cooling fan service life is limited by the bearing, which is about 10000 ~ 35000 hours. When the variable frequency drive continuous operation, we need to replace the fan or bearing in two to three years. To extend the cooling fan life, some VFD's fan only operation when the VFD turn on, but not the power on.

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

Electrical machine software

You can categorize the electrical machine software into 2 basic types:

1) FEA packages that may or may not have a front end for analyzing motors. These are available from companies like Vector Field (now Cobham), Infolytica and a few others.
2) Motor design specific software such as the SPEED software, RMxprt and MotorSolve from Infolytica.

In the first category, the FEA packages are expensive because they are general purpose modeling packages. The motor add-on is usually limited mostly to the building the model and perhaps some specialized post-processing for motors. Their main advantages are:

1) 2D and 3D versions.
2) The user is free to define what analysis he wants to perform since they have very advanced general post-processors.

Their main disadvantages are:
1) Cost, they can get very expensive depending on the options you require.In some cases, the motor design module is a cost option.
2) Although they have general post-processors, many users require a lot of training in order to be able to get useful information.
3) Geometry input can be a lot more complicated since the front-ends typically have a limited number of geometries available.

The second category, the motor design software, is specifically designed for motor analysis. It can be magnetic circuit based such as SPEED and RMXprt or full finite element based such as MotorSolve. The magnetic circuit type of software has been available for a long time but it has only been recently that full FEA based motor design packages have become available.

The general advantages of software of this type are:

1) Template based input so the user simply chooses the motor geometry, stator and rotor and sets the parameters for the geometry. The input is therefore very simple but limited to the templates that are implemented in the package.
2) Post-processing is specialized and presented in a form that a motor designer can use it.

The general disadvantages of this type of software is:

1) No specialized post-processing is available directly from these packages unless added by the software provider in a new release.
2) Geometries are limited to the templates and adding templates may be very difficult and has to be done by the software provider.

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

Motor Rotor Bar issue in Current Signature Analysis

The condition of the rotor bars will determine how much torque your motors will deliver. As a person who has been in the electric motor repair business all my life it is something I constantly check. Normally when you talk about rotor bar health it refers to open rotor bars however I have found that in aluminium die-cast rotors there can be voids in the end-rings. Todays vibration equipment and your CSA equipment is so sensitive that it will pick up these voids. In a repair shop environment and with a motor with a good stator winding it is relatively simple to check for open rotor bars. if at all possible we will check for open rotor bars before we take a motor apart by performing a single phase rotor test. You apply approximately 20% of line voltage to two phases of the motor. Rotate the rotor through 360 degrees and monitor the current. If the current is steady the rotor is in good health. If you have one or more open rotor bars the current will drop as the open bars pass the energized part of the stator. A 10% swing would indicate open rotor bars.
Just in case there is a second cage in the rotor you can also put a voltmeter across one of the energized phases and the open phase. Just like the current, the voltage should stay steady.
When a motor is developing open rotor bars it will become noisy on start up. Noisier with each bar that becomes open. It can sound like a cement mixer or as if there is no lubrication in the bearings.

I have no idea what a rotor bar health index is. I would assume that it is a severity level that has been developed by the people who manufacture your test equipment.

Neither am i familiar with the Motor Current Signature Analysis. We use a surge tester which has an attachment for checking rotors but I don't put much faith in it.

Open rotors can be a nightmare for electric motor repair facilities. Open rotor bars are not always visible and can be very difficult to detect. Our core tester has clamps that allow us to induce a low voltage and high current into the rotor cage but it is not conclusive. We could use a growler to energize the rotor and throw iron filings over the core. On a big rotor it takes a bit of time and customers don't like paying for it, especially when you don't find any problems.

If your motors are die-cast aluminium and they are starting up every day without struggling to get up to speed and they are not noisy during start up, your equipment might be picking up voids in the aluminium.
If you have copper or copper aloy rotors with brazed end-rings and I might suggest that you be concerned. Once you get one open rotor bar it only gets worse as time goes by.

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

Improve induction motor efficiency

The efficiency of an induction motor is determined by intrinsic losses that can be reduced only by changes in motor design. Intrinsic losses are of two types: fixed losses - independent of motor load, and variable losses - dependent on load. Fixed losses consist of magnetic core losses and friction and windage losses. Variable losses consist of resistance losses in the stator and in the rotor and miscellaneous stray losses. So by reducing these losses we can improve efficiency of induction motor.

Changing the rotation direction will not improve efficiency.
Core loss and copper, those are the dominant losses. Improve them and you will get better efficiency. Changing the slot shape etc will help considerably, as will using copper in the rotor. BUT, you can't do either one without affecting the performance of the motor, specifically the starting torque and current as well as the maximum torque and current. In addition, if the motor is designed to have aluminum cage, then changing the cage material to copper won't help the efficiency much since the rotor slot and end rings are not optimally designed.

Improving slot fill will help your copper loss, by putting bigger wires in the stator slot, the wire resistance will reduce and the copper loss will go down. Reducing the end turn height of the windings will also help reduce copper losses.
Stray losses are the only one which can improve efficiency without affecting size of the induction motor. This can be reduced by reducing harmonies in the machine, which can be controlled by selecting slot combination, winding layout, size of air gap, saturation, concentricity of air gap etc.

If an induction motor has to run in both direction and uses a bi directional fan it is inefficient. uni directional fans are used in higher ratings to improve efficiency. further direction of rotation is determined by the driven equipment and cannot be changed at will. Minimising losses both core and copper and stray losses, better cooling ,improvement in cooling fan design a combination of all this suitably balanced will improve efficiency but there is always a limitation on max value imposed by certain conditions of application, materials, willingness of customers to pay.

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

What factors cause Current unbalance

1. Voltage unbalance in supply side (1% volts could easily be 10% current).
2. Physical differences between individual stator coil shapes and connections causing small (but noticeable) resistance changes.
3. Unsymmetrical magnetic circuit - not as big a deal in the smaller "ring" lamination designs, unless highly saturated.
4. Lightly loaded machines will exhibit far higher unbalance than those loaded closer to the full nameplate rating (mostly due to the magnetizing current requirements and associated core/stray loss).

For quick solution measure the current in the three phases, then change the three supply terminals by shift the three terminal to rotate the motor in the same direction, and measure again the current, if the high current move with a certain phase (example: phase L1 of supply read high current in the two case above) the problem is from supply, you can then measure the voltage at motor terminal to be sure that the control circuit and cable are good.

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

What’s the difference of variable frequency drive and soft starter

variable frequency drives are two different purpose products. VFD is for AC motor speed control, it's not only change the output voltage but also change the frequency; Soft starter is a regulator actually for motor starting, just changing the output voltage. Variable frequency drive has all the features of soft starters, but the price is much more expensive than the soft starter and the structure is much more complex.

Variable frequency drive is converting power supply (single phase VFD and three-phase variable frequency drive.

Soft starter is a set of motor soft start/stop, light-load energy saving and various protection functions devices to control motors.

Soft starter uses three opposite parallel thyristors as regulator, plug it into the power source and motor stator.  When using soft starter to start the motor, the thyristor output voltage increases gradually, and the motor accelerates gradually until the thyristor is turned on completely. The motor operates at rated voltage to achieve a smooth start, reduce starting current and avoid start overcurrent trip. When the motor reaches rated RPM, the startup process is completed, the soft starter uses bypass contactor to replace thyristor to provide rated voltage to the motor, in order to reduce the thyristor heat loss, extend the soft starter service life and improve efficiency, also avoid harmonic pollution to the power grid.

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

VFD control loop circuit faults analysis

The affection on variable frequency drive life in the control loop circuit is the power part, the buffer capacitor in smoothing capacitor and IPM board. The ripple current pass the capacitor is a fixed value which won't be affected by the main circuit, so its life is mainly determined by the temperature and power-on time. Since the capacitors are soldered to the circuit board, it difficult to determine the capacitor deterioration by measuring the electrostatic capacity. Generally, we calculate its life base on the ambient temperature and service time.

Power supply circuit provides power to the control circuit board, IPM drive circuit, operation display panel and cooling fan, the power is obtained from the main circuit DC voltage rectified by the switching power supply. Therefore, if one power short circuit, besides itself damaged, also affect other parts power supply, such as misoperation causes power source and the public ground short circuit, result in switching power supply circuit board damaged, the fans power supply short circuit etc. Generally it's easy to find out by observing the power supply circuit board.

Logic control circuit board is the core of a variable frequency drive, it includes CPU, MPU, RAM, EEPROM etc large scale integrated circuits, the failure rate is very rare due to high reliability. But sometimes all control terminals closed simultaneously during startup which will cause the VFD drive appear EEPROM fault, in such case, just reset the EEPROM.

IPM circuit board contains drivers and buffer circuit, and over-voltage, phase loss protection circuits. Logic control panel PWM signal input to IPM module by voltage drive signal optical coupling, so, we should measure the IPM module optical coupling during module detection.

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

3 phase induction motor designs

For 3 phase motor designs, there is hardly any slot combination that will yield a perfectly smooth torque-speed curve. Keeping the following rules in mind will (mostly) avoid the combinations that tend to amplify magnetic noise, harmonics, and parasitic torques.

Let the number of stator slots be S, and the number of rotor slots be R, and the number of poles be P. Undesirable combinations occur when any of the following are true:

1. S - R = 0
2. S - R = +1 OR -1
3. S - R = +2 OR -2
4. S - R = +P or -P
5. S - R = +(P + 1) or -(P +1)
6. S - R = +(P + 2) or -(P + 2)
7. S - R = -(P * 2)
8. S - R = -(P * 5)
9. S - R = +(P * 3) or -(P * 3) .. or multiples of +/-(3 * P).

We know the stator should have an even number of slots to make winding easier - although for certain pole counts, it too can be an odd integer value. And except for a few cases, the number of rotor slots can be either even OR odd.

Then it comes down to the accuracy of the compound die or indexing die for the slot stamping.

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

VFD overcurrent trip during acceleration/deceleration

First, we should know it's caused by loads or itself. If it's the variable frequency drive problem, we can check the trip current from the VFD operation history, to see if the current exceeds the VFDs rated current or electronic thermal relay settings value. If three-phase voltages and currents are balanced, we should consider overload or sudden change situations, such as motor stall. If the load inertia is big, we should extend the acceleration time appropriately, this is suitable for a good VFD. If the trip current is within the variable frequency drive rated current or electronic thermal relay setting range, then it maybe the IPM module or relevant parts failure. In this case, we can measure the variable frequency drive output terminals (U, V, W), and resistance of the P, N terminals on DC side to determine whether the IPM module damaged or not. If the module is good, then we can know it is the drive circuit trouble. If IPM module overcurrent or ground wire short circuit causes the VFD trip in deceleration, generally it's the top half-bridge module or drive circuit fault; If IPM module overcurrent during acceleration, then it is the next half-bridge module or drive part fault. For such failures, mostly it's the external dust entering the variable frequency drives or environment moisture.

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

Choose motors for electric vehicles

My experience with the types of motors in electric vehicle is the following. There are three choices for motors in EVs, permanent magnet PM, integral permanent magnet IPM, and induction motor IM. They each have their pros and cons. A PM has the highest power density; it was used on a military HEV on which I worked. A con for the PM is the back emf during a vehicle run-away. If the vehicle were to go down hill at a high rate of speed a large bemf would be generated that would damage the IGBTs due to excessive DC bus voltage. The integral permanent magnet motor has smaller power density because the magnets are smaller and interior to the rotor, but is a compromise on the excessive bemf during a run away. The IPM has "half" permanent magnet torque and "half" reluctance torque. The IM has the smallest power density, and thus the physically largest for the same power and torque. On the other hand, it does not have an excessive bemf condition during run-away. The IM is also less expensive, but this was not the main consideration on the HEV on which I worked.

The major reason for using PM or IPM motors is power density and efficiency. That results in better mileage, lower weight and additionally less cooling required.
The cost for PM is significantly higher and availability is lower. Especially in Hybrids PM seems to be standard (e.g. Prius) but they have their own motor design.
For run-away the solution Chip suggested is an option. The short circuit currents are not necessary to high for the inverter if the inductance is high enough. That obviously needs a special design for the motor and possibly a short circuit device between motor and drive. Additionally the transients for the short circuit currents can be twice as high as the steady state short circuit currents. Another option would be to disconnect the driveline from the motor mechanically.
Another motor type that has not been discussed here is the high speed switched reluctance motor. Inexpensive to build and high efficiency (although lower power density).

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