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The installation of an AC drive with an advanced software tool from Control Techniques has reduced the number of callouts for blockages at an Irish County Council pumping station.

Control Techniques’ IPC Lite software has been fitted to a replacement Commander SK AC drive at a pumping station at Kelly’s Bay, Skerries, in North County Dublin, Ireland, and has cut callouts because of ’ragging’, the fouling of the pump’s impeller, from a weekly occurrence to just once since it was installed six months ago.

Ragging is said to take up thousands of hours of maintenance time in sewage pumping stations and wastewater treatment plants worldwide.

At the Kelly’s Bay pumping station, two variable-speed drives control the main and standby pumps.

Jim McGuiness, Fingal County Council’s mechanical supervisor, said: ’The pumping station would run for a couple of weeks and then we’d get three or four callouts in a week.

’So when it was time to replace one of the existing 15kW AC drives, Control Techniques’ Drive Centre in Newbridge suggested that we had IPC Lite software loaded.

’It has worked extremely well; before the software, we switched between the two pumps weekly to spread the load from a maintenance point of view.

’However, since August, we have just run the one pump with the IPC Lite software and monitored its performance by telemetry; maintenance costs have dramatically reduced,’ he added.

Callouts for blockages to Kelly’s Bay, a distance of some 11 miles (17.7km), took a team of two an average of two hours each time.

The pump now runs around the clock, with flow rates varying between 20cu.m/hr and 70cu.m/hr, with IPC Lite providing early warnings of ragging and initiating cleaning routines when required.

IPC Lite is an in-drive solution to ragging that provides the early ’predictive’ detection of a problem as well as initiating a client-defined cleansing cycle.

It measures onboard active current, unlike other systems that measure the motor’s nominal current, a measurement that can give an error of 30-40 per cent on the real torque figure.

Control Techniques’ system measures real torque every millisecond.

As soon as IPC Lite sees a change in the active current profile, remedial action is taken to remove the potential blockage.

In the event of a blockage, the cleaning routine is initiated.

The cleaning routine is user configurable via parameters and a manual cleanse can be triggered by staff if required.

To prevent repeated cleaning in the event of a major blockage, IPC Lite provides the detection of successive cleansings (in this case five times) and lockout and alarm to indicate a fault.

The IPC programming can be tailored to suit individual pumping stations; in this case, a level sensor has been added to the system to trigger the pump into high speed in times of flooding.

John Williams, Fingal County Council’s senior electrical and mechanical engineer, said: ’We are now looking at fitting IPC to the second riser and other problematic pumping stations are also under consideration.

’It is clearly cost effective and is a low-cost solution compared with costly macerators,’ he added.

IPC Lite is supplied loaded into a logic stick on a Commander SK AC drive.

According to Control Techniques, replacing a DoL or Star-Delta starter with a variable-speed drive can save a significant amount of energy.

The ability to reduce the frequency from 50Hz to 38Hz on a pump would reduce the speed by 24 per cent and typically save between 40 per cent and 50 per cent in energy consumption.

IPC Lite features advanced technology pressure and flow monitoring for surge prevention to protect expensive rising mains, while low flow detection and alarms check site performance as, even with clean pumps, low flow can indicate other problems.

Control Techniques has been trialling the system for three years with most UK water companies; the company has also been trialling IPC Lite in the US, Canada, Dubai and the Philippines.

Control Techniques

Control Techniques, an Emerson Industrial Automation company, is a world leader in the design, production and marketing of electronic variable speed drives for the control of electric motors. Our strategy is to concentrate on delivering drives and servo products that enhance the productivity of our customers’ machines and processes.

We operate through a global network of drive and application centres that both distribute product and add value by building our drive products into custom designed systems and by offering the highest levels of customer service.

Our Control Techniques drive centres also provide us with invaluable feedback and market intelligence so that we can further improve our products and service. This customer focused strategy will enable us to continue to grow profitably.

Our competitive edge is based on our unique focus on drives, our strength in research and development, our investment low-cost manufacturing and an effective worldwide marketing strategy.

Emerson Industrial Automation, a business of Emerson, is a global technology provider that enables productivity, efficiency and quality gains for customers across a spectrum of industries. Our products include alternators, electric motors and drives, electrical distribution devices and mechanical power transmission, fluid automation and ultrasonic joining solutions. Visit our website for more details.

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