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Digitalization and the opportunities of the Industrial Internet of Things

Jan. 4, 2022
Ethernet features of Schneider Electric’s variable-speed drive deliver user-focused experience

David Chen is senior offer manager, Schneider Electric.

What have been the biggest improvements to motor and drives in the past five years?

David Chen, senior offer manager, Schneider Electric: Digitalization and adaptive cascade vector control (ACVC) have been our largest improvements over that time. From a digitalization perspective, we have embraced the opportunities of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) including advanced communication capabilities and a range of Ethernet features within the variable-speed drive (VSD) itself to deliver a user-focused experience for the Industry 4.0 environment.

Adaptive cascade vector control provides enhanced torque accuracy and dynamic response resulting in:

  • improved mechanical dynamic and static performance in different ranges of speed operation
  • improved torque control accuracy on the full speed range
  • improved torque limitation in speed control
  • optimized energetic performances.

What’s the most innovative or efficient motor/drive application you’ve ever seen or been involved with?

David Chen, senior offer manager, Schneider Electric: There are several that stand out, but I’d focus on these:

  • performing open-loop/synchronous motor safety functions configuration within an industrial automation platform
  • Bluetooth interface to speed motor commissioning in HVAC application.

Also read: Ease of use dominates motor and drive trends

How have motors and drives benefitted from remote monitoring and connectivity?

David Chen, senior offer manager, Schneider Electric: Remote monitoring and connectivity have allowed us greater insight into a process without requiring people to be directly around the process, enhancing both the efficiency and safety of users. This functionality has also increased the ease in which data from these processes is logged and stored for the future. As an example of this, we can look at hoisting applications. If an electrical panel is installed in the top of the facility, remote monitoring features, such as Webserver, allow users to easily connect to the variable-frequency drive (VFD) from the ground for commissioning, versus taking the time and safety risks of climbing up to the machine each time.

Can you explain how software development has changed motor and drive design and production?

David Chen, senior offer manager, Schneider Electric: This has allowed us to achieve different and greater functionality by implementing more microprocessors for motor control, digital connection, VFD internal control and safety. This has increased the complexity of the products more than ever before, but it also allows us to provide even greater benefit to the user.

How do motors and drives figure into digital-twin platform models being used by manufacturers?

David Chen, senior offer manager, Schneider Electric: Schneider Electric provides open data under Modbus, ODVA, EtherNet and EtherCAT protocols, and we make that information available on our website.

When will motors and drives become IT-friendly enough that engineers are no longer required for installation and operation?

David Chen, senior offer manager, Schneider Electric: The commissioning of motors and VFDs are very different, and they also vary by application. If suppliers are able to focus innovation on commissioning, the reliance on engineers in this process could be reduced.

What future innovations will impact the use of motors and drives in discrete-manufacturing operations?

David Chen, senior offer manager, Schneider Electric: Machine learning will have an impact here. Now VFD suppliers are focusing on providing accurate configurations to end users. With machine learning and innovative processors, we may see VFDs gain some autonomy to make adjustments as needed in these processes.

Tell us about your company’s state-of-the-art motor or drive.

David Chen, senior offer manager, Schneider Electric: Schneider Electric is an industry leader in advanced motor control with a range of offers from simple soft starters to advanced IIoT-enabled variable-frequency drives. Our Altivar line leads the group responsible for more than $1 billion in revenue. These include:

  • Altivar soft starters—ATS01/22/48—designed for a soft-start sequence on motor for industrial control of pumps and fans
  • Altivar building and HVAC drives—ATV212—designed for HVAC applications and designed for low harmonics
  • Altivar Process drives—ATV600/900—designed for enhanced control and energy management.

These service-oriented drives feature a built-in electrical power meter with 5% accuracy giving users a proper index, while performing energy-saving motor control in pumping and other heavy industrial applications.

Altivar Process can track and communicate electrical data from the motor, the mains and the VFD output in digital format and can seamless synchronize these to the cloud.

Altivar Process includes three analog inputs allowing the spare analog input to be used to collect data from the field and similarly communicate it through its Ethernet-based platform.

About the author: Mike Bacidore
About the Author

Mike Bacidore | Editor in Chief

Mike Bacidore is chief editor of Control Design and has been an integral part of the Endeavor Business Media editorial team since 2007. Previously, he was editorial director at Hughes Communications and a portfolio manager of the human resources and labor law areas at Wolters Kluwer. Bacidore holds a BA from the University of Illinois and an MBA from Lake Forest Graduate School of Management. He is an award-winning columnist, earning multiple regional and national awards from the American Society of Business Publication Editors. He may be reached at [email protected] 

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