"Creating a configurable control cabinet reduced engineering and delivery time by nearly 50%," says Kevin Weaver, president at Northwind Air Systems, manufacturer of the DuroVac brand of industrial vacuums in Mississauga, Ontario. Weaver collaborated with engineers at Eaton over about four months to create a proprietary software application that simplifies the sales, quoting and ordering process and helps expedite the design, engineering, drawings and delivery of the control cabinet for DuroVac’s industrial central vacuum systems.
"I set out to create a system that could quickly configure and cost a control cabinet and the equipment to meet specific application requirements,” says Weaver. "We developed a configurable motor starter control cabinet with set costs and set discrete relay logic and drawings that are created based on options selected during the sales quoting stage with the design controlled by AutoCAD and proprietary software (Figure 1). Simply add the options, and drawing layers are toggled on or off in the AutoCAD drawing, creating drawings instantly. This led to a 10-day improvement in our ability to give approval drawings to our customers—10 days faster than basically anyone else in the world."
Since its inception in 2000, Northwind ships hundreds of 10-to-250-hp vacuum systems each year (Figure 2). Most custom fabricated systems are shipped in six weeks, including fabrication drawings.
Configuring for waste pickup
"DuroVac supplies vacuum cleaners for picking up the waste material on the floor, container, pit or bin that is not commonly reclaimed," says Weaver. "One industry that is served is fracking, where the vacuum picks up sand with chemical additive. The vacuum works well as a labor-saving, back-saving device to pickup the heavy sand. Similarly, in a foundry that uses sand castings, there is typically four or five tons of sand collecting in pits that must be picked up daily. Collecting coal from the coal gallery or the waste fly ash is another common application. There are many other applications that require a vacuum with industrial capabilities that can pickup 2 to 12 tons of material per hour. We like to see snow drifts of material in our customer's plants because then we know we have a good customer."
DuroVac designs and assembles industrial vacuum cleaning systems including large industrial portable and large industrial central vacuums. "The configurable cabinet is used in the central vacuum systems," notes Weaver. These multiple motor systems include the main motor in a range of 8 to 75 hp. Up to two auxiliary motors in the range of ½ to 5 hp are also a part of the system's configurable design. These auxiliary motors are for accessories such as a cooling fan for the optional sound enclosure and for one of five or six choices for a discharge valve such as a rotary air lock."
These central vacuums are controlled by relay logic but are sometimes tied in to a PLC, explains Weaver. "We have relatively simple control,” he explains. “Often a remote start/stop along with a general fault indication is used. Also, on our filters differential pressure, for instance, we can have a 4-20 mA analog output going to a PLC or plant DCS."
The panels that DuroVac buys from Eaton are relay logic panels that cover 80% of the operations, says Weaver. "Eaton is providing the engineering, electrical components and assembly for the control panels used with Northwind’s DuroVac industrial vacuums systems," he explains.
"Approximately three years ago, DuroVac developed a project where our vacuum equipment would become configurable," comments Weaver. Selection of the vacuum pump leads to options such as a sound enclosure and inline safety filter. "There are a number of options surrounding that particular pump,” explains Weaver. “The pump hp or vacuum flow rating is also selectable, changing all of the bolt-on options. A vacuum pump may support a 20-, 25- and 30-hp motor with the only differences being the belts and pulleys."