AC drive that’s a touch easier to use

Original equipment manufacturers are being targeted by Wales-based UK start-up company Invertek, a new name in the fast-growing AC drives sector.

The company hopes its Optidrive product will capture a share of the projected 24% annual growth in the small to medium-range drives market up to 2002.

The Optidrive range of drives, designed to be easy to make, install, set-up and use, follows a format used in everyday electronic goods such as mobile phones and TV tuners. Using quick-touch buttons, a choice of real-time displays can be called up, giving the main parameters of current, frequency and motor shaft speed in rpm.

Standard menus cover commonly used functions, while a secondary, lockable, menu shows an extended range of options such as spoken language, or details of service support contracts.

A novel feature is the infrared hand-held remote controller, called the Optiwand, which doubles as a storage device for transferring programs between drives, or between a drive and a PC, to enter information into, say, a spreadsheet.

A Windows program being developed will extend the range’s use in remote diagnostics and in updating programs via the internet.

Four models are available in three sizes, covering single- and three-phase motors between 0.37 and 16kW. The technology is based on a power stage developed for reliability jointly with semiconductor specialist Toshiba. Drive features include safety shutdown and options such as filters and fieldbus connections.

The Optidrive will be distributed in the UK through an exclusive arrangement with Wyko.


Siemens’ new range of Simovert MV drives has possible applications in powering high-speed compressors, pumps and fans used in water pumping, waste treatment, power generation and in the oil, gas, steel, and mining industries.

The medium-voltage, variable-speed drives have a compact, modular design. Siemens says the drives offer precise speed control and dynamic performance. They are available in voltage ranges from 2.3kV to 6kV and power output up to 5MVA, and offer speed control from 0-9,000rpm.


Simplatroll positioning drives are being used to automate the manufacture of wood fencing sections by controlling the speed and position of nail guns.

The drives are being used on a machine developed by Industrial Timber Technology. Two Lenze type 8202 inverters drive the X and Y axes in a master/slave configuration via the Simplatroll motion controller. The 8202 drives are connected to two 0.75kW motors with a wide speed range, with incremental encoders for position feedback.

The Simplatrol package includes software writing, system commissioning and training for operators.


Hazardous area equipment specialist Bartec-Varnost will launch a new range of flame-proof and explosion-proof motors at this year’s Drives & Controls show, in Telford on 16-18 March.

UK supplier Kenworth believes the smaller frames of the IEC 71 and 80 drives will be a particular selling point, as its UK competitors are unlikely to be able to provide these sizes.

The range of motors come in IEC frame sizes 71-225 as standard, with frames up to 355 available. They are approved for gas groups 2A, 2B and hydrogen.


ABB Control hopes to solve a sticky problem for sugar beet refiner British Sugar at its biggest factory, in Wissington, Norfolk.

Fluctuations over the power supply network were causing motor control drives to trip by opening contactors when the voltage dropped. To overcome the problem, British Sugar engineers installed ABB Control’s AF contactors, which have a much wider operating window than the contactors previously used between 50% and 250% of the nominal control voltage.

An electronic coil regulates the current needed to close the contacts and keep them closed even if supply varies.

British Sugar hopes the new contactors will make more expensive options, such as fitting uninterruptible power supplies, unnecessary.

AF contactors are available in 50A, 63A, 75A, 95A and 110A ratings. Just four coil options cover voltages from 58V to 1240V, AC or DC.