Lyn Corum 2015-11-16 17:21:11
The Internet has made possible a revolution in power controls—a revolution often referred to as The Internet of Things (IoT). Until it—and the fiber optics that connect us all—came along plant machines operated in their own universes, leaving facility engineers unable to understand how whole plants work together, and unable to find operating efficiencies. That phrase, The Internet of Things, is a favorite theme of Keith Nosbusch, CEO of Rockwell Automation, an international company that focuses on industrial automation and information. Its flagship product brands are Allen-Bradley automation components and integrated control systems, and Rockwell software. The Internet, along with the Ethernet, came along and changed this world, says Phil Kaufman, Business Manager at Rockwell Automation. One of the company’s key products is a low-voltage variable frequency drive (VFD). A drive has a ton of information in it—more than 1,000 parameters—and that information is used internally to help drives run better. This is information such as power quality, harmonics, voltage, and consumption, all used in diagnostics. “What we’re seeing with VFDs, and the sensors buried in them, is the ability to achieve and extract from the drives more information about how the motors and pumps are operating,” says Kaufman’s colleague Mary Burgoon, market development manager at Rockwell Automation. She adds, “We have more tools now for machines to communicate with each other. “Our low-voltage VFDs connect to the Ethernet,” continues Burgoon, and to a computer allowing the manufacturing engineer to study the data and see inefficiencies in production. The engineer can modify the performance of the machinery to improve efficiency, for example, by programming the conveyor line to automatically ramp down until needed. They then can bring in more people with other expertise to optimize production, Kaufman says. There can be a lot of efficiency gains here, Kaufman notes. The conveyor that operates all the time can increase efficiencies, in both energy and labor, by being shut off and on with the VFD and the motor tied together. “The manufacturer who sees the efficiencies of automating the drive and motor will save the most,” in terms of energy efficiency and operations, and the bottom line. You can modulate production based on data abstracted from controls, he says. There is no yardstick to measure energy efficiency, because it is how you improve your whole production line, says Kaufman. Being in a control room and reading monitors instead of walking from one station to the next on the plant floor reduces labor costs. Operations could even be read from a cell phone. Burgoon believes there is big potential here. Some industries are highly automated, “and our task is to get their systems to talk together,” she says. Increasing Business With Automation One company that most typifies the value, in a business sense, of the IoT is Kings Hawaiian Bakery. Robert Taira started it in Hawaii 50 years ago, moved to southern California in the 1990s, and expanded from a 30,000-square-foot facility, to 40,000 square feet. Then, in 2004, the company built a 150,000-square-foot automated baking facility and corporate headquarters. The business continued to grow, and by 2010, after reaching capacity, the company decided to build another factory in Oakwood, GA. Demand had been spreading across the country, and this second factory would help with rising gas prices and other transportation costs. It was to be a 125,000-square-foot highly automated bakery. The bread making process required a total of 11 specialized machines manufactured by different OEMs. The control and information platform required a unique design environment, user interface, and vendor support model. Kings Hawaiian also wanted advanced data collection capabilities to help it consistently bake the highest-quality products, as well as gain operational efficiencies across the enterprise. Kings Hawaiian hired Bachelor Controls Inc. (BCI), a Rockwell Automation partner, to create an architecture that would enable the company to meet its short-term goal of getting the equipment up-and-running to open the plant on time, while laying the groundwork for information gathering and sharing throughout the enterprise. Also, the company wanted to be able to look in on the baking process remotely from California to maintain production quality. BCI directed all of the OEMs to use the Allen-Bradley Control Logix programmable automation controller, and the Allen-Bradley PanelView Plus human machine interface for the packaging machines. The entire plant communicates via Ethernet/IP. The new facility opened in October 2011, one week earlier than its planned 10-month deadline. Immediately, it doubled the company’s bread production. Stage two of the project—developing the centralized data collection and control system—was completed in the months after the plant startup. The plant’s engineers are focusing first on leveraging the new information to establish exact product-quality standards and parameters. They then will focus on operational efficiencies. A longer version of this case study, including a discussion of specific control systems, is available at www.rockwellautomation.com, under News & Innovation/Success Stories/Food. Fast-Changing Times Did automation and robotics drive innovation in motors, pumps, and VFDs? “It’s a chicken-and-egg situation which came first, but they are interrelated,” says Dr. Mark Johnson, director for the Office of Advanced Manufacturing at the US Department of Energy (DOE). “Tiny motors, high-speed motors, variable speed motors, and larger are all linked by automation. It’s all about converting electricity into mechanical work. We’re in a fast-changing time now. “The big breakthroughs came with semiconductors,” adds Johnson. Semiconductors have traditionally been based on silicon chips. Now the chip materials are transitioning to silicon carbon and gallium nitride. These are known as wide-bandgap semiconductors that permit devices to operate at much higher voltages, frequencies, and temperatures than conventional semiconductor materials. These wide-bandgap materials allow more powerful electrical mechanisms to be built which are smaller, cheaper, and more energy efficient. Applications include optoelectronic devices, such as those for high-efficiency LED lighting and power components needed in industrial processing. There are also applications in consumer appliances, higher efficiency transformers for the grid, and helping integrate renewable energy onto the electric grid. Furthermore, these will accelerate widespread use of robust and efficient power components in high-energy vehicles from electric trains to plug-in electric vehicles. Wide-bandgap semiconductors are often utilized where high-temperature operation is important. Realizing the full potential of wide-bandgap semiconductors will require the development of cutting-edge manufacturing processes. Johnson says the DOE has made a significant investment to create the Power America Institute (www.poweramericainstitute.com) to focus on next generation power electronics development. “We made a funding commitment of $14 million per year for early stage research, development, and design of technology, matched with at least $14 million in private sector, university, and state investment,” he says. According to the DOE’s factsheet on wide-bandgap semiconductors, as manufacturing capabilities improve and market applications expand, costs are expected to decrease, making wide-bandgap-based devices competitive with the presently less expensive silicon-based devices. Moreover, energy losses will be reduced. Wide-bandgap devices eliminate up to 90% of the power losses that currently occur during alternating current (AC)-to-direct current (DC), and DC-to-AC electricity conversion. Smart manufacturing has the potential to improve efficiency in energy-intensive processes. Understanding the processes and the energy they consume, and understanding the information technology breakthroughs that can improve these processes is what we want to see studied, Johnson says. Johnson says the next generation electrical machine will be very large, high-megawatt motors—for example those needed in compressors—in chemical factories and wind turbines, to name a few applications. This next generation of machines will lead to more cost effective electrical generation. “We’re looking to have demonstrations of using variable speed drives in large motors,” he says. “Typically, these large motors don’t have VFDs, and we are pushing the technical challenge to make this happen.” The department sent out requests for proposals earlier this year through the national merit review process, he says. “Our technology investments are made with the goal of having an impact on the marketplace,” concludes Johnson. Finding Perfect Harmony Peter Hammond, now a consulting engineer with Siemens, thought a lot about how to solve a serious problem with medium-voltage VFDs in the late 1980s when he was with Robicon. He had been designing low-voltage VFDs for many years. Then a solution occurred to him as the company, now owned by Siemens, had been trying to scale up the low-voltage design to medium voltage while encountering problems. VFDs are used to allow an AC motor to operate at any desired speed by changing the frequency supplied to them. Low-voltage drives are designed to operate below about 690 V with a maximum of about 1,000 HP. Medium-voltage drives operate up to 15,000 V and can reach 20,000 HP or more. At the time VFDs were being used with centrifugal pumps or fan loads to save energy, but they were injecting harmonic currents into supply lines. They were also reducing the life expectancy of the motors they were driving. Hammond and his fellow engineers at Robicon saw there was a market for medium-voltage VFDs. Hammond says that, in the ’70s when drives became widely used, people started to notice bad side effects. Cables and transformers were over-heating, and utility customers complained of interference with TVs, telephones, and instrumentation. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) created standard 519 in 1981; it was voluntary until 1992. The standard required that harmonic distortion of the current draw by a facility must be less than 5%, he explains. After the standard became mandatory in 1992, many facilities started having to spend money to comply with standard 519. Robicon’s solution hit the market in 1994. So what did Hammond and Robicon do? Hammond saw that instead of connecting semiconductor switches in series to achieve higher voltages, which is very difficult, it would be easy to connect complete low-voltage converters—called power cells—in series. Each phase of the motor could be driven by several power cells connected in series. (A power cell, as used by Robicon/Siemens, is a specific type of converter that takes in three-phase AC power at fixed frequency and voltage and delivers single-phase AC power at variable frequency and voltage.) Hammond asked at the time, “What if we control the power cells to switch one at a time in a multi-level topology?” By stacking low-voltage power cells in series, “we can go as high as six cells in each phase, to 7,200 volts. We can vary the number of cells according to the voltage needed.” Voltage fed to the motor is improved by switching cells at different times. “This gave us a lot more benefits, Hammond says. Switching cells at different times reduces stress on the motor and produces smoother torque. In addition, a transformer in the VFD feeds power to all the cells and cancels many harmonics so that they are not injected into the plant’s power supply. The new drive is in harmony with its environment at both the input and at the output, he explains. The result of this development was called the Perfect Harmony, the first practical multi-level drive. Existing motors did not need to be replaced with this new drive because the currents flowing into the motor are so smooth extra losses are avoided and torque pulsations are minimized. The first Perfect Harmony was controlled by a 16-bit microprocessor, but it was slow so that high-speed control functions required dedicated hardware. When Intel came out with the Pentium a few years later, Hammond says, they upgraded to an all-digital control package using the Pentium, shrinking the control package to the size of a large book. With all control functions in software, very complex control strategies became possible, he says. Hammond says it took a year to build the prototype, and in 1994 when the first drives became available on the market, they sold 47 units. Robicon’s patent was issued in 1997. An oil and gas company was Robicon’s second customer and it bought 21 of the first 47 Perfect Harmony drives for an offshore platform, says Hammond. The company had originally ordered low-voltage VFDs, but when the engineer came to approve them and saw the Perfect Harmony prototype, he changed the order to Perfect Harmony drives. His reason was that the drives were for submersible pumps in wells under the sea, which cost $1 million to replace if they fail. Using Perfect Harmony drives reduced the risk of such a failure, explains Hammond. The Perfect Harmony has an important feature—the cell bypass option—Hammond says. This feature takes advantage of the inherent redundancy in having multiple cells. The cell bypass option provides a contactor for each cell to remove it from the string if it fails. The drive can then continue to operate with the remaining cells. The maximum output voltage is reduced, but the customer can continue running the equipment. Another oil company asked for and got a guarantee that their drives would run without interruption for five years. Hammond explains that some processes take a long time to stabilize after startup, so the company wanted a drive that would never cause a shutdown. The drives provided have met the five-year goal. Hammond reports that there are international competitors, particularly in China, where many companies have copied the Perfect Harmony. “We were naive and only applied for US patents,” says Hammond. Siemens expects competition to increase when the US patent expires. Siemens is manufacturing Perfect Harmony VFDs at its main plant in Pittsburg, and in plants in Germany, Shanghai, and Brazil. Approximately 13,000 drives have been installed worldwide, and total sales are approaching $2 billion. “It’s been an interesting time,” says Hammond. Siemens celebrated the 20th anniversary of Hammond’s invention of Perfect Harmony on August 8, 2015. Motor Efficiency Robert Amstutz, a senior applications engineer in GE’s Energy Management division, discusses the history of the extra severe duty motor, which GE introduced in the early ’80s, and how that development led to ever more energy-efficient motors. Known as the XXD, this motor changed the game by being a higher efficiency motor that operated in the 1- to 300-HP range, Amstutz says. It remained competitive throughout the ’80s. During the ’90s, other motor manufacturers caught up, and the US and Canada started setting higher efficiency levels. The IEEE 841 standard was developed though a collaboration of many manufacturers, which produced a better, more reliable motor for oil and process industries, Amstutz says. “We decided we had to go to a higher level,” he adds. This development produced the XXD Ultra. The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) also produced efficiency standards. The first took effect in 1997 and increased efficiency requirements by 5%, to 10%. A second standard boosted efficiency requirements by 2% in 2010. “We said we will go beyond the standard,” says Amstutz, “and the result was the XXD Ultra 841. This motor has half the vibration of the IEEE standard.” Into the late ’90s and early 2000s, Amstutz says, “We did a lot of research” and saw market potential in Europe where there were no standards at the time. However, the International Electric Standards were developed for both Europe and Asia around that time, and Amstutz recounts that other motors meeting the IEC standards were not as robust or reliable as US motors. “We took everything we learned from our development of the XXD project and applied it to International Electrochemical Commission [IEC] motors, starting in 2009,” he says. Between 2005 and 2009, GE developed the Quantum motor in the larger size range, 300 HP to 1,000 HP, Amstutz says, using the same ideas he and his fellow engineers learned with the XXD. The Quantum meets both NEMA and IEC standards for all markets. “The XXD models are our flagship motors,” says Amstutz. “We are in the middle of introducing vertical pump motors, and we’ll apply the lessons learned to the vertical platform.” These motors will be targeted for the irrigation and wastewater markets, he says. The 2005 Energy Policy Act contains efficiency standards, which vertical pumps currently have to meet, but they are lower than the NEMA Premium standards, which will take effect in June 2016, boosting efficiency standards about 2% above the current federal standard. Horizontal pumps have had to meet NEMA Premium efficiency standards since 2010. Amstutz says motors in service will not have to comply with the new efficiency standards, but replacement motors will. Luc de Camas, senior product leader for power conversion, also at GE, talked about the N37, launched on July 1. It is a compact induction motor with virtually the highest power density in its class and a dramatically increased power per kilogram ratio, operating at 6,000 HP. The N37 was upgraded from the N3 motor line to make it lighter and less noisy. “We saw a big need to move to better efficiency and lower cost,” he says. It is manufactured in France and other international sites. The N37 is designed to run compressors and pumps in the oil and gas and other industries, which have large compressors and pumps, de Camas says. The motor will be introduced into the US market at the end of 2015 and the beginning of 2016 and will be available in 60 Hz. It is currently available to operate at 50 Hz for the European and Asian markets. “There has been a big revolution in high-speed, high-power induction motors,” says de Camas. “The goal is to be at the forefront of the technology revolution.” Amstutz continued with a comment on smaller motors: “We have the most reliable, lowest vibrating motors with the best thermal margin, due to the highest-rated insulation with the lowest temperature rise built into the motors. We use both VFDs and motors to improve power conversion. We’re one of the few companies to match both for clients.” Monitoring Pumps Plants with small pumps can look forward to improved and affordable monitoring with the i-ALERT2, introduced by ITT in May. Traditionally, if a plant operator wanted to know how a pump, fan, compressor, or gearbox was performing, he used a handheld device to check vibration, according to Jeffrey Sullivan, global projects manager at ITT. The company, headquartered in White Plains, NY, is a diversified manufacturer of highly engineered critical components and customized technology for the energy, transportation, and industrial markets. Sullivan explains that the first i-ALERT was introduced in 2008, but all it did was flash a green or red light to check engine status. He says the operator had to be there to check the status. It was a big success, “and we started getting a lot of feedback about how to improve it,” he says. “We have been studying how to do it, and low-energy Bluetooth technology with long battery life caught up with us two-and-a-half years ago.” Margaret Gan, ITT’s spokesperson, says that the pump market has traditionally had monitors with high-energy pumps, but not smaller pumps in low-energy application. The i-ALERT2 has opened up this smaller market, she says. Sullivan adds that the three major market segments include very large, expensive equipment for turbines, for example, and both the large- and mid-range segments want hardwired continuous monitoring. There haven’t been monitors for smaller products without the price point being too high, says Sullivan. The i-ALERT and its follow-on i-ALERT2 fills this gap by providing a more affordable monitor for small pumps, fans, compressors, gear boxes—anything a plant manager wants to monitor. The new monitor, a small 1 ½-inch by 2 ¼-inch device that is installed with one bolt on top of the pump, does a lot more tracking than its predecessor. It records vibration, temperature, and equipment run time. All data is transmitted via Bluetooth 4.0 technology to a handheld device such as an iPhone. It has continuous monitoring and a wireless range of up to 100 feet, and can scan multiple i-ALERT devices at once. If something goes wrong, the i-ALERT2 will let the plant manager know, says Sullivan. It sends an alert every five seconds, and if the iPhone is turned on, the app will ping. If the i-ALERT2 is on ITT equipment—and if the equipment serial number has been put into the iPhone—the pump curve, data sheet, and parts list materials, downloaded from the Cloud, can be shown on the iPhone. Moreover, Sullivan says, “We can also enable GPS and identify the closest sales office or repair facility on the app.” It’s been tested on a lot of industrial equipment—cars, refrigerators, school pumps, he says, and he adds that heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems are not ITT’s target market. It is concentrating on industrial markets. Sullivan says the i-ALERT2 app has been launched with Apple and IOS products and will be launched on Android next year. He explains that Apple devices have a solid platform, but many Android devices do not have the required technology yet. The i-ALERT2 is currently available for download on the App Store on iTunes. “One of our goals is to make the data understandable without having to ask an expert to interpret it,” says Sullivan. ITT also has a variable frequency drive product called “PumpSmart,” which has been on the market since 2007. PumpSmart was named Plant Engineering Magazine’s 2014 Product of the Year. PumpSmart is available in both low-voltage and medium-voltage models. Addressing the medium-voltage model, the company says it is designed to control and monitor high-energy centrifugal pumps, 4160 V and above, providing real-time visibility to pump operation. Real-time diagnostics of the pump system are displayed on an easy-to-use touchscreen dashboard or can be transmitted to a main distributed control system, giving engineers the ability to maximize the energy usage and efficiency of each pump. Sullivan says the Pump Smart controller can provide pump protection, and information on speed and pressure levels and can control a multi-pumping system without flow meters. Furthermore, the Pump Smart controller will balance loads between four pumps with a common head, based on flow and pressure level. “It will control whatever you want,” he says. A full description of PumpSmart is available at: http://ittproservices.com/aftermarket-products/control. Keith Nosbusch, CEO of Rockwell Automation has the last word as quoted in December 2014 of IndustryWeek. He believes the IoT will improve our economic situation, because automation increases productivity at the end of the day. “Even as we have less direct labor with this new model, high-tech jobs and processes do have a multiplier effect,” he says . . . “by taking the data from the connected machines, or enterprise, and figuring out how to utilize the data to make faster and better decisions. These decision-making improvements will drive global competitiveness.” Lyn Corum is a technical writer specializing in energy topics.
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