Modern machines demand modern solutions. Our goal is to keep one step ahead of the rapidly changing demands of our customer by introducing innovative and technically advanced products and solutions that continue to support their creativity and ingenuity. Addressing customer challenges is how Parker engineers gain their greatest satisfaction.
So what is it that is currently keeping Parker engineers tied to their CAD stations and heads down in CODESYS?
How can something like a variable speed drive help save the planet? Well of course on their own they can’t, but when used as part of an approach to energy conservation they can contribute to a significant reduction in energy usage. Estimates vary, but it is believed that as much as 75% of the electricity consumed in industry is used in controlling electric motors. An even more astonishing figure is that as few as 10% of these motors possess any form of intelligent control, the majority being controlled by some form of mechanical intervention in the form of dampers, valves or clutches.
A good analogy of this is driving along a motorway in your car with the accelerator pressed to the floor while using your brakes to slow yourself down. While it’s fair to say that there are applications out there with perfectly matched motors and mechanics running day and night that wouldn’t benefit from the addition of a Variable Speed Drive (VSD), there is a significantly higher proportion that would.
And what of the age old objections about it being too difficult to implement, or too costly to justify? These fall into the category of ‘if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it’, a laudable sentiment but one that ultimately leads to inefficient processes, greater downtime and higher maintenance costs.
The reality is that in most instances, a VSD can be fitted to a motor and be up and running in a couple of hours, delivering energy savings instantly, with payback times as low as a few months. Add to that lower electrical peak demand, reduced mechanical shock and wear, longer filter, bearing and belt life, improved productivity and significantly less maintenance, VSD’s start to make a significant contribution to saving not only electricity but many of the world’s other precious resources.
All that said, the age-old adage of ‘if it isn’t needed turn it off’; is still the best way of reducing energy usage no matter what your application.
Environmental considerations is referring to the increasingly difficult operating conditions that products are expected to perform in. As the benefits of automation usage have become more widely understood, so are the number of applications being put to work.
Many process industries produce a range of nasty by-products, many of which are the enemy of the internal working of automation products. Corrosive gases, humidity, and dusty or dirty atmospheres are among the challenges these products now find themselves coping with on a daily basis.
To counter this, the manufacturer has a range of techniques to help ensure continued trouble-free operation in even the most arduous of environments.
Tradition methods such as coating circuit boards with a protective substrate that acts as a barrier to harmful elements such as conductive dust, water or Hydrogen Sulphide gas still has a massive part to play in reducing product failure in such circumstances , but increasingly, intelligent design is playing a greater role in product reliability.
By careful consideration at the design stage, the effect of contaminants on the product can be mitigated considerably. Consider the AC30 Series VSD, it has been designed in such a way that heat sources are kept away from large metal surfaces within the product that could cause condensation to form. Power electronics and control electronics are kept apart meaning that the power electronics, which typically require force cooling, have a separate cooling path preventing contaminants being blown across the more delicate control electronics. Also, a more pragmatic approach to case design means that radiated heat dissipation and convection play a far greater part in cooling the product, reducing the overall cooling air requirement in normal operation.
In the case of the AC30 Series VSD, the use of intelligent design and traditional methods have come together to produce a product that easily meets the requirements of operation in a class 3C3 environment.
As someone once said; “Change is constant”. We certainly believe so and relish the opportunity to take the latest and greatest innovations and ideas from around the engineering world and turn these into our next generation of products. By constantly striving to be the best, our engineers are helping our customers to solve many of the greatest engineering challenges facing mankind.
Article contributed by Nigel Steel, Parker Hannifin, EMEA Marketing Communications Manager, Automation Group
Other articles on trends in automation: