Those who work in a factory or industrial automation environment probably know at least a bit about variable frequency drives or VFDs. Known for their superior speed control, these drives can be quite useful for operational facilities. Below are a few ways that variable frequency drives can improve overall factory production and efficiency.
1. Fewer Disruptions to the Power Supply Line
When using an AC motor, the initial start-up puts a huge strain on the entire power supply line. This is not so with a VFD since the voltage starts at zero and slowly ramps up from there. Essentially, instead of starting with a big bang as with an AC motor, a VFD slowly and steadily picks up speed to ease the strain on the rest of the power supply line. The difference is noticeable, especially among smaller devices such as computers that can drop offline when an AC motor starts up.
2. Better Adjustments
While a VFD starts at a reduced speed, it can be adjusted more easily even from a remote location. Programmable controllers make this possible and allow operators to remotely start the VFD at a lower speed while picking up in power over time. The programmable application can make it easier for controllers to adhere to factory parameters too.
They may have an easier time adjusting torque as well. Unlike an AC motor, a VFD can be set to a specific torque limit to prevent excessive currents and overloading. This results in greater protection against overuse, helping factories maintain their machines and prevent quick wear and tear.
3. Acceleration and Deceleration Controls
The control that a VFD grants machine operators cannot be overstated. Another way that these drives benefit factory automation is in the acceleration and deceleration controls. Whereas an AC motor starts up and uses tons of power and energy, a VFD can start up at a controlled speed and slowly accelerate from there.
This preserves the strength and efficiency of the motor, saving money in the long run. As for deceleration and stopping, the ability to control this process with a VFD means that mechanical stress is lowered and the machine’s longevity is increased.
4. Energy and Cost Savings
All of these points add up to better overall energy savings, which is always a big win. The variable torque loads reduce overall energy usage and the lower starting speeds do so as well. Whereas an AC motor just runs at full speed, a VFD is adjustable, cutting energy consumption and lowering overall costs for factory operators.
The monetary savings that a VFD could potentially bring is enough for some factories to adopt VFDs completely. Of course, it is important to weigh the pros and cons of a VFD versus an AC motor before jumping into a decision.
Still, a VFD could reduce the need for expensive components such as vanes and dampers. The ability to adjust the acceleration and stopping speed of a variable frequency drive can also eliminate the need for gearboxes, which can cut down on space. In some cases, an energy provider may offer specific incentives to industrial clients who use variable frequency drives. All in all, there could be quite a bit of financial gain for those who opt for a VFD in place of an AC motor.
Keep in mind that there are different VFD makes and models on the market. As a result, there could be significant differences in the overall quality and dependability of the drives. Monetary savings can’t be the only parameter for choosing a VFD but can be a potential benefit. Hopefully, you feel more informed about VFDs and their advantages as well as how they can improve your factory automation and operations.