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How Variable Speed Drives can make an impact

The manufacturing sector seldom sleeps. Across the world, production facilities operate around the clock to meet their customers' demands.

Anyone overseeing a manufacturing plant knows there are three key components to its operational success:

• Using machinery that is fit for purpose
• Conducting regular planned maintenance to keep machinery in good condition
• Implementing robust processes to keep you and your teams working effectively

And what do each of the above points have in common? An aspiration to increase efficiency

By becoming more efficient, plants can significantly increase production speed, achieve higher output, and lower their costs.

Is it time to upgrade your machinery?

Making major changes can be complex and expensive, so taking an 'if it isn't broke, don't fix it' approach to machinery might seem like the best way forward.

And it's true that keeping a machine well maintained will keep it working at its best for longer. But this approach doesn't take into consideration whether that machine is the most appropriate for the job.

What was once an incredible system may long since have been superseded by advancing technology. And if you care about your production costs, perhaps it is time to lift the bonnet, so to speak, and see what inefficiencies are lurking beneath.

Could a Variable Speed Drive be the answer?

At the heart of most machines is the trusty motor. It's what pushes the machinery towards the high speeds relied on today to meet the required product output.

To accommodate the varying needs of the line, frequent changes to the speed and torque are required. That’s where a VSD comes in.

Variable Speed Drives (VSDs) convert the incoming electrical supply into a variable frequency and voltage output for the motor to alter the speed and torque. They provide meticulous control to ensure the correct production flow. Many VSDs can be programmed to adjust automatically as required.

The result is three-fold – production lines operate more efficiently, generate higher output levels, and reduce energy consumption.

Using a VSD to control the production process results in an average energy saving of approximately 50%.

Lower energy consumption is reason enough for production plants to install VSDs, but there are other advantages too:

• Greater control over the speed, pressure flow and temperature
• Prolonged equipment life through programmed acceleration and deceleration
• Higher capability when handling increased speeds
• Less stop/start requires less power

The impact of Variable Speed Drives in manufacturing

There are several ways VSD technology is impacting manufacturing for the better.

Energy Management

Just as VSDs have increased, so has the use of synchronous motors, which are more energy-efficient than direct start induction motors. Direct start systems have no control over speed, often causing stress to their attached equipment and significantly reducing its lifespan. On the contrary, a VSD-based system delivers the torque required at startup, placing less stress on the machinery.

Process Optimisation

Because VSDs provide more control over their ancillary systems – conveyors, fans, motors and pumps – each instantly runs more efficiently. And when your production line is handling thousands of items at high speeds, this control becomes critical for fast, cyclical output.

Predictive Maintenance

Torque – the force causing a motor to rotate – is critical to manufacturing success. Too loose, and machinery operates poorly; too tight, and it can cause damage to the products. Using VSD technology allows further control over the systems in real-time – or, when a fault does occur, captures critical data about its cause. Ongoing and preventative maintenance becomes easier to manage, further reducing costs caused by downtime.

Safety

Many VSDs have a mechanism to bring machinery to a halt whenever safety is compromised. They meet European standards and comply with safety standards EN62061 and ISO13849-1.

How easy is it to install VSDs in a production plant?

The short answer is very. VSDs are simple to implement and extremely affordable. However, you should use a qualified contractor, such as AES, to ensure the installation is completed safely and correctly.

As experts in VSD technology, we begin with a site assessment to highlight areas where your plant can improve efficiency and reduce energy use. We’ll also provide details of the expected return on investment.

Next, we’ll install your VSDs where required and at a time that causes minimal disruption to your business. We’ll also train your staff on the safe and correct use, and provide ongoing support, maintenance, safety checks and testing as required.

If you’re looking for ways to increase efficiency without replacing all your equipment, VSDs could be the answer.

About AES

AES offers all the electrical contracting services you would expect, coupled with specialist services specifically to keep manufacturing businesses safe and efficient.

As well as installing VSDs, we can conduct machine risk assessments and inspections, install, maintain and service any electrical equipment. Plus, we are CompEx accredited, allowing us to work in hazardous areas.

If you’d like to learn more about how AES can keep your equipment operating efficiently, get in touch.

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