Service Oriented Drives (SODs) | Myth or magic?
Implementing a service orientated inverter drive (SOD) concept helps facilities managers reduce unscheduled downtime by moving to a predictive model. Variable Speed Inverter Drives (VSDs) have been in regular use for over thirty years, and are installed in large numbers throughout industry and commerce-mainly for motor speed control. They have improved significantly, with design lives of more than ten years; state of the art electronics, and smarter software to optimise energy saving.
To encourage their wider use, manufacturers have integrated many more capabilities than just motor speed control. Modern drives include PLC control, HMI interface panels, multiple networking capabilities, predictive maintenance, self-monitoring, and many industrial specific characteristics.
However, according to Schneider Electric, much of the new functionality is overlooked, and users need to consider how this intelligence can be leveraged to improve plant performance. They argue that the deployment of service oriented drives (SODs) improves productivity and plant uptime.
In many operations, maintenance practices are 60% reactive, 30% preventive and 10% predictive. Predictive maintenance estimates and projects equipment condition over time, utilising probability formulas to assess downtime risks. The SOD concept helps facilities managers and maintenance personnel to move in the direction of a predictive model.
Engaging pre-alarming and alarming capabilities
Drives must be connected properly to inform maintenance providers automatically in real-time of any impending or actual failures. Drives with SOD-enabled capabilities use both local area network protocols and web services to communicate. The drives can be designated as either “on premise” or “remote access” depending on IT infrastructure and privacy constraints. Automatic E-mails and texts can be generated to inform operators on any unusual equipment behaviours. The SOD functionality sends warnings about the drive’s own internal issues, and reports on the status of the entire drive line.
Enabling remote technical support
High turnover of on-site maintenance personnel and low failure rates in variable speed drives make outsourcing diagnostic and troubleshooting activities to outside experts an interesting option. Major suppliers provide phone and online access to certified remote technical support and field service engineers. Tools such as QR (quick response) code technology (for non-connected drives), and remote monitoring (for connected drives) can help to link the SODs to the diagnostic experts.
Easy access to documentation
For maintenance and support, easy access to proper documentation is a key factor in enhancing operational efficiency. Implementation of SODs allows easy on-line access to either standard generic information (such as datasheets and instruction manuals) or asset specific information such as product maintenance sheets or parameter files).
Improved lifetime monitoring
To minimize troubleshooting operations, and subsequently downtime, SOD drives are designed for maintenance, and their architecture allows simple and quick maintenance repair procedures.
A lifetime monitoring system is also embedded in an SOD-enabled drive. This system issues warnings when parts are likely to wear out (this depends upon operating time and environmental conditions) and when warranties are about to run out.
Start up and commissioning benefits
Correct start-up and commissioning of VSDs will avoid unexpected downtime. The SOD approach serves as a high-level commissioning tool. The feedback provided by the intelligence of the drive indicates whether the system is functioning as specified. In addition, asset specific documentation access is instant.
Preventive and predictive maintenance planning
SODs can act as smart sensors, and collect data on all the key parameters affecting the driveline lifetime (such as operating time, temperatures, torque, main voltage, currents). Through monitoring, the SODs can compute future outcomes for those chain elements that are predictable, and perform statistical analysis on those components in the driveline that are not predictable.
Recent surveys indicate global process industries lose an estimated 5% or production annually due to unscheduled downtime. This impacts factory profitability and efficiency. To address this issue, many industries are reducing overall downtime impact by migrating to technologies designed specifically to maximize uptime. This includes Service Oriented Drives.
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