How intelligent motor control improves productivity and energy use

How intelligent motor control improves productivity and energy use

An interesting article from the Schneider Electric blog considers how integrating motor control, automation, and energy systems reduce cost and improve efficiency.

In most industrial operations, electric motors play a critical role in driving conveyors, pumps, compressors, agitators, fans, and essential equipment. In large production plants, the management and monitoring of motors are critical for preventing errors like incorrect mixing of ingredients.

Motors also account for about 70 per cent of the total energy consumed in a process plant. A holistic approach to motor control, automation, and energy management is helping users to reduce costs while increasing production.

Besides repair costs, motor failure causes expensive plant stoppages and equipment damage. But a modern automation control system can track motor performance and reduce instances of motor failure. Moreover, monitoring the power use of motors provides ways to reduce energy by aligning it to its workload using VSDs.

Integrating plant automation

Understanding the operation of the plant’s systems allows the engineers to refine and optimise performance by integrating new control devices. For example, moving from electro-mechanical starters to products like TeSys U all-in-one intelligent motor starters and Tesys H hybrid starters.

TeSys U is a compact all-in-one motor starter for direct-on-line or reversing motor control and drive protection. It combines the functions of a circuit breaker, contactor and motor overload in intelligent modules up to 15 kW with short circuit protection up to 50kA.

The compact TeSys H hybrid starters are 45 mm wide and offer similar functionality for motors up to 4 kW. They are often paired with GV2 motor breakers for short circuit protection and are widely used in multi-motor panels.

Using TeSys compact intelligent starters reduces design and installation time and minimises wiring and panel space. Furthermore, they reduce downtime and accommodate networking communications and remote monitoring for improved control.

Variable Speed Drives (VSDs) and soft-starters

VSDs are also intelligent motor starters but with the benefits of improved motor control and energy savings for pump and fan loads. Many of the new generations of service-oriented drives take intelligence to the point of operation. They help manufacturers transition to smart factories by connecting key devices, and through their data collection and analysis capabilities. Products like Altivar ATV61 and the ATV930 allow proactive and predictive maintenance and energy management.

Motor control centres (MCCs)

Combining these intelligent motor starters in MCCs allows plant operators to control some or all motors from a central location. This approach increases reliability, reduces wiring costs, and lowers the risk of human error. For example, a plant with 100 motors will need wiring for more than 500 PLC-related I/O points associated with them. Connecting an Intelligent MCC to an automation system via a communication network eliminates the need for most of this wiring. The network enables the communication of warnings, alarms, and motor parameters and energy consumption to the automation system for analysis.

Network communication

Previously, three levels of the network provided communication to the automation system, like Modbus (RS-485), Profibus or CANopen, and Ethernet. But with IIoT, users are running control and collecting more data on the same network. This needs the higher bandwidth offered by Industrial Ethernet networking.

Ethernet is more expensive but performs better for speed, data transfer capacity, flexibility, reliability, ease of installation, and noise resistance. Ethernet devices also have built-in web servers and configuration tools that make installation, commissioning, and diagnostics easier.

Intelligent motor controls and VSDs provide energy consumption data for each motor. Multifunction meters and intelligent breakers monitor the quality and quantity of electrical energy. Data captured from all these devices feed into energy monitoring systems such as Schneider Electric’s Power Monitoring Expert (PME) and Power SCADA Operations (PSO). These systems output management information reports and dashboards and contribute to a significant reduction in energy costs.

For the full article visit the Schneider Electric website



Recent blog posts