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Exopack Advanced Coatings, a manufacturer of coated papers, films and speciality substrates, has replaced two existing variable speed drives with products from the Parker SSD Drives AC890PX range.

Not only did the new drives prove easy to install and straightforward to commission, they also provided an improvement in performance that saved the company from having to install larger and more costly motors to increase the capacity of its plant.

Exopack operates a large pollution abatement plant at its UK manufacturing site in Wrexham.

Central to the operation of the plant, which deals with exhausts from the site’s production machinery, are two fans, each of which is driven by a 180kW induction motor.

The speed of the fans is continuously regulated so that there is zero pressure differential between the abatement plant intake and the machine exhausts – the plant imposes no back pressure on the exhausts, nor does it actively extract gases and vapours from them.

The abatement plant has now been in operation for a number of years and, because of Exopack’s growth in its business, it recently became apparent that an increase in capacity was needed.

When the site was in full production, it was difficult for the fans to maintain the necessary zero pressure differential, even if they were operating at the maximum attainable speed.

To address this issue, Exopack decided to install larger fan motors.

However, before this could be done, difficulties were experienced with the existing variable speed drives, which were becoming increasingly unreliable and, because they were obsolete, harder and harder to maintain.

To guard against complete failure, which would have seriously affected manufacturing operations on the site, the decision was taken to replace the drives immediately.

Dan Hitchcock, project engineer, said: ‘We chose drives from Parker SSD Drives for this critical application, partly because they are well specified and offer excellent value for money and partly because of our positive experiences with the company’s products in other applications.

‘We’ve always found that Parker drives just work, and that they’re completely bomb proof,’ he added.

The latest AC890PX modular drives were chosen.

Available with ratings of up to 400kW, these compact units measure 500mm in width, enabling them to be installed into the limited space available.

They use sealed plug-in modules for all major functions, making them easy to service, and incorporate a range of features as standard, including line fuses, line reactors and a disconnect switch.

In addition, they support V/f, sensor-less flux vector and full flux vector modes of operation.

Hitchcock continued: ‘Because everything we needed for our application was built into the drives themselves, installation was fast and straightforward.

‘Setting up the drives, using the free software provided by Parker SSD Drives, was just as easy.

‘Within three days of them being delivered to site, we had the drives installed, configured and fully operational,’ he said.

Initially, the drives were set up for V/f operation, as were their predecessors.

Even under these conditions, Exopack said that the motors were able to run close to their original maximum design speed.

The engineers at the company then decided to see if further improvements could be achieved by switching to sensor-less flux vector operation; the results exceeded their expectations.

As the fans could now be operated under full control at higher speeds, the capacity of the abatement plant was increased by five per cent without the need for other modifications of any kind.

This was sufficient to cater for the current demands of the production equipment, with some reserve in hand.

As a result, the engineers decided it would no longer be necessary to install larger motors, thereby saving the company more than GBP10,000.

Exopack is also saving money because of the drives’ energy efficiency.

Hitchcock said: ‘When the old drives were in operation, the temperature of the switch room in which they were installed was always around the 30C mark, which made it a good place to be when the weather was cold.

‘With the new drives, the temperature in the room is just a degree or two above ambient.

‘That’s somewhat reduced its attraction on cold days, but it does instantly confirm that we’re now wasting far less energy that we used to.

‘Another indicator of their efficiency is that the new drives are much quieter in operation than their predecessors.

‘Low noise levels are not a particular requirement in our application, but they are undoubtedly the sign of an efficient, well-built drive,’ he added.

Parker Hannifin – Electromechanical and Drives

Parker Hannifin is the world’s leading diversified manufacturer of motion and control technologies and systems, providing precision-engineered solutions for a wide variety of mobile, industrial and aerospace markets. With a comprehensive portfolio of electromechanical actuators, servo motors, servo drives, operator displays, communications devices and variable speed AC and DC drives, the Electromechanical and Drives Division are uniquely placed to meet all of your motion control and drives requirements.

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