4 Ways to Reduce VFD Downtime

Posted April 15, 2015 by Vanessa Muse
Categories: Innovative-IDM, video, Yaskawa

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Variable frequency drives are probably one of the greatest inventions in modern automation.  If you aren’t using one of these things yet, trust me you will be soon.  They are always getting less expensive, easier to use, the applications are virtually endless.  Now you can control the speed and the direction of the motor and save money at the same time.  These things are instrumental in a lot of different applications and therefore, their uptime is critical.  As you may know if you ever had to replace one before, it could be a little cumbersome to replace.  It’s always really a race against the clock, because it almost certainly means a motor somewhere is not running which is probably meaning some downtime for you.

So the first thing you always want to remember about VFD uptime is that heat is the number one VFD killer, or heat is the number 1 killer for any piece of electronics for that matter, especially VFDs.  These components you have to remember have high voltage running through them, so it could be 480-600 volts if you are in the Canada market running through them and they produce a lot of heat.  There are fans inside these things that are designed to cool them.  They also have massive heat syncs on the back that are used for heat transfer to the cabinet or surrounding pieces to keep them cool.  The one thing you always have to remember is you need to let your VFDs breathe.  They have to stay cool.  Keep the fans running, always keep the fans running.  The first thing that you are probably going to see that will fail on a VFD is the fan, because it’s always running.  Anytime the VFD is on, the fans are running constantly.  So you need to make sure you have spare fans on the shelf, you know how to replace them, and you maintain them.  Make them part of your preventative maintenance program.  Check and make sure they are running. Also, the heat syncs themselves can get very dusty, and that dust can build up a lot of that heat so that it can’t transfer heat properly and they will get too hot.  Always clean your heat syncs.

1. There are fans forcing air through the internals. Dust can build up just like a PC at home.  What do you do to mitigate that?  You get a can of compressed air and blow that stuff out of there every now and then.  Make sure that you keep a VFD cool and it will always be happy.

2. You want to protect your drafts from heat and contaminants, such as dust or particulate that may be in your air because of whatever process is going on in the nearby environment. You want to make sure the cabinet that these are installed in or at least the environment of the room they are in is a controlled environment.  Make sure it’s not going to get too hot.  If you are going to put it in a cabinet make sure the Nema or the IP rating of the cabinet is suitable for that environment to keep the contaminants from getting to this piece of equipment.

3. You always want to use proper electrical filters whenever possible. There are filters that are designed for use of both line side, which is between the power company and the drive, and load side, which is between the drive and the motor or the load.  There are inductive and compassitive type filters as well as RFIEMI type filters that are designed to help these things, help protect these things from power spikes, electromagnetic noise that may damage the input or output side of the drive or electronics.  So always try to use proper electrical filters.  It may cost you a little more in the beginning but you will be a lot better off in the long run because it will prolong the life of the VFD itself.

4. You always want to properly maintain the load that this motor is connected to. For instance, if you are not properly maintaining a motor and the motor burns up and the insulation melts inside the motor because it gets too hot, maybe because you didn’t grease a barring.  It could cause a short.  A short is going to damage the output of this drive and could cause the drive itself to fail.  So make sure you are always properly maintaining downstream equipment, the load that the drive is hooked up to.

If you have any more questions about this always feel free to contact us.  We have application specialists that can help answer questions as far as how to properly size them, how to properly size the cabinets that they are installed in, the environments they go in, as well as the electrical filters I mentioned, best practices to use when installing those.  You can also find a lot of information on our website innovativeidm.com.  This is where you will find our knowledge center.  There is going to be white papers best practices listed there that you would want to use when selecting drives and components both upstream and downstream from the drive to help increase uptime.  After all Innovative-IDM is Home of the Legendary Customer Experience.

Clean Electrical Panels Save Money

Posted April 7, 2015 by Vanessa Muse
Categories: Innovative-IDM, video

Tags: , , , ,

Hi, I’m Adam Ring with Innovative-IDM. Have you ever walked up to a control panel and it just looks like a complete rat’s nest in there? Have you ever wondered, what would be the value of having a nice clean control panel and how can that save you money?

Well, there’s three main reasons. Number one is that it’s going to last longer. Number two, it’s going to be a lot easier to troubleshoot in the end. And number three, it’s going to be a lot easier to repair if something were to break.

Now, let’s take a closer look. Inside this panel, you’ll notice that there are labels on every device that identify it according to what it’s called out on the schematic. Also, every single wire that terminates into a terminal block, has a label on the wire that actually matches the label on the terminal block. So, if that wire were to ever come out or you had to replace a component, it can be very easy to make sure that it gets placed back in the right location.

Also, if you take a look at the general wiring in this panel, you’ll see that everything is very nice and neat, very organized and just has a very nice look to it. When the wires transition from the inside of the door panel, you notice that there’s spiral wrap that adds an extra layer of protection, so that if the wires rub against the door from being opened and closed, it makes sure that it doesn’t wear through the insulation ad cause electrical problems.

Finally, you’ll notice that there’s also stainless steel hardware that’s mounting each of these devices to the panel and that’s what will give it that extra longevity, so that it doesn’t break down over time due to corrosion. So remember, a clean panel is more than just looking good; it’s going to help save money, by lasting longer, being easier to troubleshoot and easy to repair.

So if you’d like to learn more about how Innovative-IDM can help you build clean control panels, visit our website: innovativeidm.com. And if you like, we can actually have you in for a tour and show you around the place. Remember Innovative, Home of the Legendary Customer Experience.

How to Remove Water From a Pneumatic Air Line

Posted April 1, 2015 by Vanessa Muse
Categories: Innovative-IDM, SMC, video

Tags: , , , , ,

Hello, my name is Chad Kauffman and I’ve been in the pneumatics industry for nearly 20 years now. Through my years I’ve visited many, many different types of plants and facilities, and a very common problem that I get asked about quite a bit, is “how do I get the water out of my air lines?”

Especially in the south this time of year, it’s a common problem for everybody as the temperature warms up. Air gets heated up and compressed in the compressor, gets out into the normal atmosphere of a plant and a facility, cools down a little bit, water forms, before you know it you’ve got water running through your air lines and all kinds of problems soon thereafter. So it’s a common and very costly problem that we all experience. It can cause major damage to your equipment, to your air tools, to a lot of the other components on the machine from the pneumatic valves, to the pneumatic actuators, to the pressure switches, sensors, etc.  Big problem, and costs can really skyrocket in that quite quickly.

One question we get quite a bit is “I have basic filtration already on my equipment or in my facility, why am I getting air in my airlines.” The answer to that is most filtration is designed to remove particulates and not necessarily moisture. So what we’ve got is a very nice solution that’s called the AMG micro mist separator manufactured by SMC Corporation.

This unit is a point of use filter that is strictly there to remove water. It removes up to 99.9% of all moisture in an airline. Again it is a point of use product. You put it right where you need it, where you have water issues. It pulls the water out and gives you clean dry air, keeping your tools up and running, reduce down time, etc. It’s very economical, typically cost is under $100 and it’s a great solution for point of use problems you are having in your airline. If you are in a facility where you are experiencing a more serious water problem where you’ve got water through all of your airlines in the entire facility, we would probably come out and recommend a series of filtration at the compressor, followed by an air dryer. An air dryer is a little bit more expensive but it is going to provide your plant with clean dry air, reduce your downtime, and save you a lot of money on replacement components.

If you would like more information about the AMG or the air dryer or the other services that we offer please go to innovative idm.com and click on the knowledge center, after all we are Home of the Legendary Customer Experience.

Why You Should Use Cage Clamp Terminal Blocks

Posted March 25, 2015 by Vanessa Muse
Categories: Innovative-IDM, video, Wago

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Hi, Adam Ring with Innovative-IDM.  I wanted to take a few minutes and talk about the battle between the screw terminal and the cage clamp. So, why do people choose one or the other? Well, let’s just look at some of the basic facts. On the screw terminal, when you strip a wire and insert it into a screw terminal, the tightest that that’s ever going to be is the connection at the time you actually torque that screw driver down. From that point on it’s only ever going to get looser. Now when you talk about cage clamp terminal, when you strip the wire and insert it into the cage clamp, that’s actually the loosest that connection ever is. And as that wire then starts to take the shape of the terminal and the wires kind of splay out and basically mold to the shape of the terminal, it’s actually going to get tighter over time because of the spring force that’s holding that wire in place.

So, with temperature cycling as that wire has current running through it and it heats up and cools down and heats up and cools down, it’s going to be expanding and contracting and so forth. Well with the screw terminal, that’s only going to force that screw to back out and get looser and looser over time, whereas with the cage clamp with its spring technology, the spring actually compensates. As the wire expands, it expands, when the wire shrinks back it shrinks back with it and so it always maintains the right amount of tension on the wire for the application.

Now there’s also industrial applications; there’s typically a lot of vibration that is experienced. With a screw we all knows what happens when it’s around vibration, they tend to loosen up. With the cage clamp, vibration typically doesn’t matter. It moves and it adjusts and responds to the vibration without coming loose over time.

Now think about what it costs if you’re having to install hundreds of terminals in a given control panel. If you’re having to screw and tighten down each and every terminal, that’s going to take quite a bit of time. But with the cage clamp, all you basically do is insert a screwdriver, insert your wire, remove the screwdriver and it’s done. You get the same great connection every time. The other thing to consider is first thing in the morning when your fresh, you’re probably going to be tightening down those screws a lot tighter than the last one at the end of the day when you’re kind of tired. So you get a variation of how tight those wires are. And so then what ends up happening is once that panel gets installed in a machine, you’re going to start having loose connections and that’s going to potentially cause a machine to go down and cost you extra money.

So you always want to make sure that you use the right product for the right application. In the case where you have temperature cycling and vibration and you’re looking for the most efficient and best cost to connect your wires cage clamps are definitely the leg up.

So if you’d like to learn more about cage clamps and how Innovative-IDM can help you please visit our website innovativeidm.com. We are Home of the Legendary Customer Experience.

The Benefits of Retrofitting an Industrial Control Panel

Posted March 17, 2015 by Vanessa Muse
Categories: Innovative-IDM, video

Tags: , , , , ,

Hi, I’m Adam Ring with Innovative- IDM. You know, when I walk through manufacturing plants sometimes I’ll come across a control panel – you open it up, look inside and you see this technology that is like 30, 40 years old. What’s starting to happen is, customers are finding that a lot of the controls in their automation are starting to really become aged. When that happens if something breaks it’s really, really hard to find. We find a lot of people who try and search on eBay to find replacement parts, sometimes they’ll send them in and try to get parts repaired, but as they continue to age the repair gets more and more expensive and eventually things just get to the point where they’re not repairable anymore. One of the worst things that happens is a major component necessary for the operation of a machine goes out and then the machine is completely rendered useless until you either find a new part or completely rebuild the controls for it. By retrofitting a control panel, you’re able to remove any of those obsolete components and replace them with the current up to date stuff that’s readily available. It gets rid of all of your hard to find really difficult parts; it enables you to not have to worry about repairs for a while.

Typically the life a new control panel, before you have to really start repairing stuff, usually it lasts about 10 years before they start to go breakdown and then you eliminate that big terrible major risk of down time. And everyone knows whatever the cost to build a new control panel is usually minimal in regards to or compared to what it costs if a machine goes down or can’t produce products for weeks or months on end while a new control panel is being designed and built.

So, overall it’s a really good idea if you’ve got aged control panels where a component going out could really, really cost some major downtime and production loss. It’s a good idea to go ahead and take a look at retrofitting those control panels.

If you’d like help in that regard take a look at innovativeidm.com. We are Home of the Legendary Customer Experience.

5 Ways to Improve the Air Quality in a Pneumatic System

Posted March 11, 2015 by Vanessa Muse
Categories: Innovative-IDM, SMC, video

Tags: , , , , , ,

My name is Andy Lewis and I’m with Innovative-IDM. Today I’m going to talk to you a little bit about your air quality and your pneumatics system. A lot of my customers tend to have issues with debris in their airline, scaling from black iron pipe, water in their airline, leaks, etc. Pneumatic systems with compressors, primarily reciprocating compressors, cause the most issues. Now, how do you protect your machinery downstream? Your cylinder, your valves- how do you protect them from having to constantly replace them or rebuild them? Well there a couple of ways you can do it, and today I’m going to give you five ways you can do it.

First off, main line filtration. Basically this is going right after the compressor and the whole purpose of it is to get oil and water out of your system. What you are going to see is generally a larger filter than this, with a port size of one and three inches. It’s going to be a very large body and it’s going to be able to handle the oil that’s going to come through. Now what’s great about SMC versus its competitors is going to be the level of microns that they filter down to is much higher than other companies. For example, the average is about twenty micron filtration. SMC’s basic mainline filtration is anywhere between three and five microns. So what you’re receiving from that is better filtration.

Now, say for example you don’t have that filtration on your line, oil and water travels down the line. And say for example, it isn’t water yet- it’s still in vapor form because your reciprocating compressor is putting air out at 160˚ F. So you have vapor traveling down your line. As that vapor gets down your line, it’s going to turn into condensate, because it has hit the dew point and now it’s in droplet form. Your valves, your rubber seal valves are noticing this water- your cylinders are noticing this water. It takes more air, higher psi, to actually shift that spool or to move that cylinder. Why? Because rubber seals expand when they get wet. Alright, so how do you fix that? Well, one way you can do it is by using a filter regulator combo. With that being said you have your regulator at the top, you can actually pop it up, change, put in place, lock.

You also have your filter- standard is five micron, goes all the way down to .01 micron, instrument grade quality. There’s nothing in your system then, it’s completely clean dry air. After that there’s also an AMG. Now this isn’t an AMG but it’s the same size. It’s a water droplet separator and takes out 99% of all water that’s going to be in your airline, and that’s a point of use item.

Finally, if you find yourself with the reciprocating compressor instead of the screw type compressor, the air is abnormal, or much hotter than the screw type. And with that being said you’re going to want an after cooler and you’re going to want a refrigerated air dryer coming out of that airline before it hits your other machines.

If you would like more information on this, please go to our website at innovatioveidm.com and remember, Innovative-IDM is Home of the Legendary Customer Experience.

How To Understand the Difference Between Servo & Stepper Systems

Posted March 3, 2015 by Vanessa Muse
Categories: Innovative-IDM, video

Tags: , , , , , ,

Hi, Adam Ring here and I’d like to talk a little bit about the differences between stepper motors and servo motors. There is a difference in the way they are structured and controlled. Stepper is typically 50 – 100 pole brushless motor where a servo is basically a 4 – 12 pole brushless motor. The stepper typically doesn’t have any kind of encoder for feedback, sometimes you can add it later on as an option where a servo is always built with some sort of feedback device whether it be an encoder or a resolver in order to tell its drive the position of its motor shaft.

Now if we take a look at the speed torque curve for each of these motors they’re very different. A stepper motor has a lot of torque at slower speeds. In fact quite a bit of holding torque because of so many pulls it can have a lot of holding torque at low speed and then the faster that you run, that torque actually starts to drop off. But you look at the speed torque curve of a servo motor it’s actually very, very flat and you get a constant torque regardless of what speed you’re traveling up until its maximum speed.

If we look at the amount of current that a particular motor draws, a stepper motor typically is going to draw full current whether it’s standing still or running. In some cases drives that you use with them may have a feature where you can reduce the current if they sit still for a long enough time, but other than that they are basically just drawing full current all of the time which also produces extra heating, as you can imagine. Servo motors on the other hand use the amount of current that’s required in order to get the motor to hold or move as demanded by the application. So typically they are going to run a lot cooler and they also have a neat little feature that enables them to produce on occasion 2 – 3 times their rated torque for short periods of time as a peak rating.

Let’s look at the cost of installing a stepper or a servo motor. As you can imagine, a stepper motor is typically going to cost less. The motor construction is simpler, you don’t typically have the feedback and the electronics to control the motor are typically simpler and less expensive. With a servo motor obviously they are going to have some type of feedback device built into the motor and then the drives that we use to control them typically are a little more involved when it comes to how they are designed and built and typically costs a little bit more.

A little bit about the application these might be used in: the stepper motor is used in applications requiring about 2000 rpm or less where you need a lot of torque at the low end, whereas a servo motor is typically used for your higher speed applications that are more dynamic and require more acceleration and deceleration typically 2000 rpm and higher.

So depending on whether you’re doing indexing moves with a light load or really dynamic moves with higher loads you can choose whether to use the stepper or the servo motor. Whether you’re in the market to purchase a stepper motor or a servo motor or not really sure which one is the best choice, visit innovativeidm.com we have an excellent knowledge center where you can come and research differences, catalogs, white papers, videos and learn more. After all we are Innovative-IDM, Home of the Legendary Customer Experience.


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