BOMA NY Members Wowed by One World Trade Center

Electronic Drives and Controls BOMA OWTCLast month, the Building Owners Management Association (BOMA) of New York hosted their first off-site Brunch N’ Learn at One World Trade Center, highlighting the latest technology in vertical transportation from ThyssenKrupp Elevator. Electronic Drives and Controls, Inc. (EDC) has been a BOMA, NY member for 11 years.  EDC’s Deborah Deluca, Vice President, serves as a volunteer on the professional development committee of BOMA NY. She coined the idea for Brunch N’ Learns, otherwise known as Lunch N’ Learns, back in the summer of 2016 in an effort to increase interest in the organization’s membership program. Since then, Deb has been deeply involved in the planning and production of these monthly events for BOMA members.

Deb reflects on the success of this month’s Brunch N’ Learn, mentioning that “One World Trade Center (OWTC) was a special location for BOMA members to visit as it has both the fastest elevators and is the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere.” At 104 floors tall and 2.6 million square feet, the building has 71 elevators that reach speeds of up to 23 MPH- 2,000 feet per minute. “Twenty BOMA NY members including property managers and commercial real estate representatives joined us to learn more about this very impressive building and what’s new in vertical transportation.”

EDC BOMA NY ThyssenKruppJoe Cossentino, Director of Vertical Transportation for Syska Henessy Group Inc., opened the event, giving BOMA members a glimpse into the history of the World Trade Center site since its humble beginnings, hosting a 22-story railroad terminal in the 1900s. Today, OWTC stands tall on the site as a symbol of hope and perseverance for New York after the tragedies of 9/11.

Joe mentions that this presentation was particularly special for him as he was a project manager of mechanical engineering, overseeing the design of 30 elevators and 50 escalators, during the rebuilding of OWTC from 2004-2013. He says, “It was a privilege to be part of the design engineering and rebuilding of the World Trade Center Site in New York City. From the day that I witnessed the tragedy on 9/11 from midtown Manhattan, to the day that I stood on the 104th Floor of One World Trade Center as they poured the final concrete slab, our sense of respect and reverence for the families and first responders, along with our sense of accomplishment and renewal by the entire design team, was part of our shared experience.”

EDC OWTC BOMA NY ThyssenKruppJeffery Smith, Director of New Installation Sales in New York for ThyssenKrupp Elevators, then took the stage to deliver an innovative presentation on the future of elevators and building technology. Kenny Peng, an Account Manager for ThyssenKrupp discusses the presentation mentioning, “Attendees were given an inside look at how our new elevator systems are going to revolutionize tall building construction not just in New York, but around the world. One example of this is our groundbreaking rope-free elevator system called MULTI. MULTI elevators allow passengers to travel horizontally and diagonally in addition to classic vertical transportation. The elevators operate in a manner that compares to that of a subway, where multiple elevators run independently but within the same hoistway. This was of high interest to attendees as it is a completely new concept for elevator technology and the first building to incorporate this kind of elevator system is currently being built in Germany.”

EDC BOMA NY Brunch N Learn ThyssenKruppAfter boggling minds with elevators that go multiple directions and at lightning speeds, attendees toured one of the elevator machine rooms, where 6 of the building’s 71 elevators are located. Deb notes, “This part of the event was a great opportunity for attendees to have firsthand interaction with ThyssenKrupp Elevator technology.” The floor was then opened for networking and questions for the speakers.

The BOMA NY/ThyssenKrupp Brunch N’ Learn was a great success. “BOMA members left the Brunch N’ Learn with a deeper breadth of knowledge on up-and-coming technological advances in vertical transportation with a behind-the-scenes look at one of the most impressive buildings in the world,” said Deb.

Are you a BOMA member? Stay connected with BOMA NY’s event calendar to catch your next opportunity to attend one of BOMA’s monthly Lunch N’ Learns!

 

Top 4 Reasons to Implement a Control System Preventive Maintenance Program

What is Preventive Maintenance?

Preventive Maintenance (PM) is a program designed to maintain optimal function of your control systems (Variable Frequency Drives (VFDs), PLCs, etc.) in real time while also preventing deterioration and failure in the future. With regularly scheduled maintenance, PM allows users to realize the greatest return on their investment.

How does Preventive Maintenance work?

Preventive Maintenance procedures are carried out on a prescribed basis, customized to the specific needs of each control system. During PM, controls undergo various physical, visual, and electrical inspections in addition to regular maintenance procedures including predefined part replacement and fine-tuning. Any irregularities are identified and remedied before they have the opportunity to magnify and cause more serious and potentially costly damage. Each procedure concludes with full documentation of the controls system’s condition at the time, creating a history file that helps predict future maintenance needs.

Why implement a PM Program?

While there are many important reasons to implement a Preventive Maintenance (PM) program for the control systems in your facility, there are four that stand out from the rest:

EDC Electronic Drives and Controls Preventive Maintenance Heat Sink Clog
Clogged heat sinks can lead to degradation of VFD performance.

 

     1. Prolongs Life of Investment

Did you know that a drive without Preventive Maintenance could have a life expectancy as low as 3-4 years before problems climb beyond economical repair? The same drive could have a life expectancy of 12-15 years or more if well maintained. Without PM, it’s difficult to tell if your drive is operating under ideal conditions or not. Non-ideal conditions put stress on crucial components such as IGBTs, capacitors and other sensitive electronics that can significantly reduce their life-expectancy. With PM, operations users realize low peak-demand rates, drive reliability and an improvement in the return on investment of their drive.

 

     2. Minimize Downtime

Electronic Drives and Controls Infra-Red Connection Problem Preventive Maintenance
Faulty connections made visible with infra-red technology can cause future problems if not promptly fixed.

Control system failure can cause major downtime in operations, costing businesses thousands of dollars. Preventive Maintenance is meant to reduce the chances of control system failure and the severity of failures if they do happen. Industries at the highest risk for losing a great volume of assets due to downtime include pharmaceutical, medical, wire and cable, and more. For example, a pharmaceutical company that relies on their drives to keep their facility and laboratories sterile could lose hundreds of batches of product and have an experiment that has lasted years be completely compromised by an unsterile facility if their drives were to fail.

 

     3. Maximize Energy Savings

To paraphrase and old pirate yarn, “Dead drives save no energy.” Preventive Maintenance programs ensure that control system’s energy consumption matches energy requirements. Mechanical systems controlled by drives and/or PLCs that unnecessarily operate at high energy consumption, endure stress that can reduce their life expectancy. With PM, systems run efficiently, reducing energy related costs and the facility’s overall carbon footprint.

 

Control Systems Messy Wiring Preventive Maintenance
Messy wiring can cause difficulties during trouble shooting and even lead to control failure if not remedied.

     4. Maintain a Knowledge Base of Equipment

After each Preventive Maintenance procedure, the information collected including inspection, updates, comments, suggestions and more is logged into a system that contains the operating history of each drive or PLC with PM. At first, this may sound like a small piece of a large puzzle when it comes to the upkeep of control systems. However, having a knowledge base of a control system’s history can be highly predictive for future maintenance needs and problems. In the long run, this helps decrease damage related costs and increase operational reliability.

 

Why EDC?

Electronic Drives and Controls (EDC) has over 50 years of experience in commercial and industrial variable speed drive maintenance, repair and retrofits- servicing over a quarter million drives to date. Over those 50 years of service, we have built a proprietary Preventive Maintenance program with customized checkpoints to assure consistent and thorough inspection of all our client’s equipment.

Commonly, organizations whose focus is on the sale and support of single brands of VFDs or other controls are at a technical disadvantage when faced with providing effective, cost-efficient maintenance and service on competitor’s equipment. Our highly trained and nationally recognized service engineers have experience with a wide variety of equipment, as we are a factory authorized/factory trained service center for over 40 drive brands, and have alliances with world-class hardware and software providers. This allows our engineers to accurately identify areas of concern before they turn into more costly, complicated issues- regardless of the control system’s brand, age, model, etc.

In half a century of service, EDC has also remained brand-neutral in an effort to operate in our clients’ best interests. Remaining brand-neutral has allowed us to give product recommendations to our clients without the influence of a third party. This also allows us to be as transparent as possible with our clients, documenting and sharing all information collected during PM visits and making suggestions for proper care between visits.

Our field service engineering team is available 24/7/365, providing immediate response to any drive and PLC repair, service installation, maintenance, start-up need and more. For more information regarding Electronic Drives and Controls, Inc. please contact us at 973-428-0500.

 

Electronic Drives and Controls to Share Building HVAC Automation Expertise in May 8 Presentation at BuildingsNY 2018 Conference

Engineering Consultant Bob Pusateri of Electronic Drives and Controls, Inc. will share best practices for installation and maintenance of energy-efficient variable frequency drives (VFD) to maximize building owners’ utility cost savings over the life of HVAC systems.

Parsippany, NJ –May 6, 2018 – Electronic Drives and Controls, Inc. (EDC), a leading control system integrator and field service company for industrial automation and drive technology, today announced the company will present at the BuildingsNY 2018 Conference on May 8, 2018 at the Javits Center in NYC at 10:45am. The presentation, entitled “Ensuring VFDs Continue to Save You Money,” will be given by EDC’s Engineering Consultant, Bob Pusateri.

In his presentation, Bob Pusateri will share what building managers can expect from VFDs’ energy cost savings and how to maintain those savings. Bob graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with a degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1987. Since then, Bob has gained over 25 years’ experience in industrial controls, specifically with variable frequency drives and motion control. Before joining EDC as an engineering consultant in 2004, Bob held various relevant positions in manufacturing, sales, project management and development. Bob’s experience has given him exposure to thousands of applications in dozens of automation brands.

When asked what he is looking forward to most about the presentation, Bob says, “It has been known for decades that VFDs can significantly reduce a facility’s energy consumption, thus helping owners and managers contain costs while pleasing Mother Earth. We show you in simple terms how VFDs do it and how to keep them running around the clock.”

The BuildingsNY 2018 Conference brings together building owners and managers, facility and maintenance managers, superintendents, architects, contractors, developers and engineers with an opportunity to discover new ways to reduce overhead, manage risk and identify cost savings.

Pre-register for BuildingsNY ’18 and Bob Putaseri’s presentation here: http://www.buildingsny.com/en/Contributors/5571084/Pusateri-Bob

About Electronic Drives and Controls, Inc.  
Founded in 1968, Electronic Drives and Controls, Inc. (EDC) is a CSIA Certified control system integrator with a large field service team specializing in AC and DC drives, PLCs and factory automation. Family owned and operated for 50 years, EDC’s team of engineers and technicians has great depth of experience integrating new control systems and breathing life into older equipment. EDC has the engineering capability to design, build, start up and service projects from the sophisticated to the simple and the service support team on call 24/7/365 to keep it all running at peak efficiency from day 1 and for years to come. In addition to the company’s certifications as a Siemens Solution Partner and a Rockwell Automation Recognized System Integrator, EDC is a factory authorized/factory trained service center for over 40 drive brands.

Bob Pusateri of Electronic Drives and Controls Headshot

Traverse Spool Winder Mechanical and Control System Upgrade Results in 40% Productivity Gain

Traverse Winder Electronic Drives and ControlsA customer who is a premier manufacturer in the metals industry came to us hoping to increase productivity and decrease downtime.  The company markets strips made of innovative copper alloys, serving the electronics industry and other demanding markets that require the highest quality copper-based alloy strip available. This customer was experiencing downtime with its multi-strip traverse spool winding line related to its 20-year-old, obsolete General Electric control system. In addition to downtime, the line had never run at its max speed due to the loss of tension during the wind and unwind process. The inconsistent tension through the slitting section compromised the integrity of the splice causing quality control concerns.

In the steel industry, if your metal converting process is compromised, losing a roll of steel due to poor quality is an expensive consequence. With the mounting downtime and quality concerns, the company decided a major overhaul to the traverse winding line was needed. The company’s plant maintenance manager was tasked with successful completion of this project on a very aggressive timeline. Production needed to be back up and running before depleting the company’s built-up inventory. This required the entire custom mechanical and controls system retrofit be completed in just 3 weeks, which required seamless planning and execution.

Having hired Electronic Drives and Controls, Inc. (EDC) for smaller controls-related projects, the customer trusted EDC’s expertise to meet the company’s goals for the project. “EDC exceeded our expectations by having the line back up and running in just two weeks. We are all over the place with technology – Siemens, Rockwell and General Electric. EDC’s team has been great to work with because they really understand and can troubleshoot a wide variety of systems,” said the plant maintenance manager. “They are very professional onsite and always provide great documentation post-project. In addition to that, EDC’s team has always worked with us to complete projects within very tight time frames.”

“Results have been excellent,” he continued. “With the increase in running speed, we have nearly doubled the output. We always had the capability of running at a higher speed, but we could never achieve that speed because we could not control the tension enough – that was always the problem. We have realized a 40% increase in productivity since project completion.”

In a recent interview, Chuck Dillard, vice president of EDC, shared some of the ins and outs of the project and gave us insight on the success.

How did this project come about?

Obsolete GE PLC and Drives

Chuck: “Several years ago, the customer was referred to us through one of our other customers that builds machinery. We soon started doing retrofits on what they had for traverse winding controls. Over the years, we have retrofitted six Ruesch Sidewinders into their production line. Last year, after they were experiencing persistent problems with tension control, they decided it was time to update the entire line.”

How exactly did EDC update the customer’s traverse winding line?

Chuck: “For traversing, we converted the hydraulic cylinder technology into electric linear actuators using servo motors with ball screw drive technology to achieve high thrust forces while maintaining the ability to produce repeatable, programmable motion. We also replaced all the variable speed drives in their cabinets and their PLC using Siemens S-120 vector, S-120 servo and S7-1500 for the PLC. For the operator interface, we used a Siemens Comfort Panel touchscreen human machine interface (HMI). We created a custom mechanical design, so they could very easily pull out the hydraulic cylinders and put in this electric actuator. The new electrically powered system was able to provide thousands of pounds of thrust with the linear actuator and then we interfaced it with the traverse winder controllers that we had upgraded a while back.”

Going from hydraulic cylinders to electric actuators, how does that impact the overall picture, and why did you want to do that?

Drive Lineup- 6RA80 DC, S120 Servo and S7-1500 PLC

Chuck: “Hydraulics are not nearly as efficient as an electric motorized system. Electric linear actuator systems use power as it is needed for traversing, in comparison to needing to have a big hydraulic power unit running at all times. Hydraulics are also very messy; their oil leakage causes the surrounding floors to be very slippery which is a big safety hazard. They are constant maintenance, from regular cleaning to more in-depth maintenance requirements. The electric servo gives the ability for more flexible, precise, and reliable control to follow the exact command for the traverse position requirements.”

How has operation of the equipment changed?

Chuck: “The customer has benefited greatly from an operational standpoint as a result of this upgrade. In the past, they had tension issues and had to slowly increase the speed. It made it hard for the management to give directions to run the line at a higher speed because the operators would run into issues and lose control of the line, leading to bad product that costs a lot in waste and scrap. During a run, they start with several master rolls. They run a master roll, then they have to splice a new one in. They can have 8 welds per traverse-wound reel.  It’s important to maintain really good tension during the time they are stopping to make the weld and starting after the weld for the traverse wind to keep its integrity. Now, the tension issues have been resolved and they can just hit a start button and the line ramps right up to 600 feet per minute maintaining tension on all of the dancers.”

What were the results of the retrofit?

Chuck: “The customer’s average running speed prior to this project was 350 feet per minute – and even then, they were nervous to run the system at full speed with the risk of failure.  Now they are regularly running at 600 fpm and are capable of running up to 850 fpm on a 1” strip which is a pretty impressive response on a traverse winding setup. With the increase in the overall speed of their line and the ability to now hold tension during acceleration and deceleration, they are realizing a 40% increase in productivity with much better quality.”

Uncoiler and Slitter DC Drives with Double Motor Modules for Servo Driven Actuator

What contributed to the success of the overall project?

Chuck: “Winding and unwinding applications are certainly in our wheelhouse. We specialize in tension control and have engineered, built and retrofitted controls for hundreds of pay-offs, take-ups, rewinds and unwinds. Proper planning, project management and execution from start to finish is critical. We handled the entire project. Therefore, we had control over coordinating all the moving parts to achieve success in the tight time frame required. After the design phase, we completed as much of the programming and build as we could at our facility. On site, we had everything lined up and ready to go. We provided electrical contracting to run cables, wires and conduits. We did the mechanical retrofit on hydraulic cylinders.  We replaced all of the panels within the enclosures.  We performed start-up and connected all the wiring.  In two weeks, the line was up and running with a significant improvement in productivity.”

Conclusion

The customer’s traverse winder line upgrade has proven to be a great investment. The plant manager shared his experience working with EDC over the years saying, “EDC does what they say they’re going to do. They were able to perform this project in a very tight time frame for us. Time is critical for us – EDC worked odd and extended hours to make this happen. We do not have redundancy in equipment, so the retrofit had to be quick. EDC originally estimated the project would take seven weeks, but they were able to revise their schedule to do it in less than the three weeks we gave them to complete the project.”

If you are looking for help upgrading your traverse winder line or other control systems, please contact us here!

 

Film Coating Line Downtime Resolved with EDC’s Successful Drives & Controls Upgrade using Rockwell Automation Products

EDC coating lineORAFOL Americas Inc. is a global manufacturer of graphics films, reflective solutions, and adhesive tape products for a variety of industries. The company’s Avon, CT plant manufactures the leading brand of DOT-C2 compliant conspicuity tapes for the heavy-duty truck and trailer market. The plant’s Director of Engineering, Gary Gauer, was tasked with resolving increasing downtime issues on an existing film coating line.

Problem

At the heart of the problem was the equipment’s legacy control system. The coater was built in the mid-90s and the existing obsolete drives and controls were no longer supported by the original manufacturer.  The equipment could no longer be adequately serviced due to the lack of technical support and availability of replacement components and parts. The frequency of downtime was increasing as well as frustration for the hours of service required.

The production line also had aging third-party equipment needing to be upgraded or replaced including integrating a new UV Curing system and a new rotary printer into the line. Integrating the new equipment required mechanical design changes to make the new equipment physically compatible with the existing line.

The coating process is very intricate, requiring expert engineering knowledge of complex winders, tension controls and web transport systems. In addition, capturing live production data such as temperatures of ovens, tensions on rollers, and feed rates added to the complexity.

Solution

After researching and receiving multiple proposals from potential solution providers, Gauer chose Electronic Drives and Controls (EDC) to provide a turnkey systems integration solution. “I was impressed by the diversity of projects that EDC had undertaken, their technical knowledge, and their focus on customer satisfaction,” said Gauer.

As primary contractor, EDC was responsible for all aspects of the project both mechanical and electrical including design, procurement, removal, installation, along with the startup and tuning. In addition, EDC managed vendors, suppliers, other engineers, and machine shops; a lot had to come together at the same time to make a project of this magnitude flow smoothly.

The existing automation system was based on multiple platforms including Wonderware, GE, Cleveland Controls, Square D, and proprietary automation. EDC recommended separating out the Wonderware interface, utilizing it as an Historian and moving to a more robust PanelView Operator Interface. Rockwell Automation’s PLCs have the capability of “recognizing” other Rockwell components such as drives, HMIs and remote I/O resulting in an effortless configuration of the network. This makes the transfer of commands, data and parameters much smoother and the task of bringing third-party equipment online less challenging, especially when Ethernet communications can be utilized.

Rockwell Automation products used include Allen-Bradley ControlLogix PLCs, PowerFlex 755 closed loop vector variable frequency drives (VFDs), PowerFlex 525 AC Drives, PanelView Plus 6 HMIs, and Stratix Ethernet switches. These were complemented by Allen-Bradley FLEX I/O modules, and an assortment of safety components and sensors.

The EDC team worked with ORAFOL’s engineers to customize the system for optimum efficiency and ease of use for the machine operators. EDC engineers developed the software and programmed the new drives and control system, breathing new life into the 20-year-old coating line. EDC integrated all third-party equipment (i.e. UV system and printer), and programmed the back-and-forth communication to each system, such as tension set points, lamp level control, line speed feedback, lamp setpoints & On/Off, Enable, Fault Reset, Shutters Open, etc. These parameters are controlled and indicated on the Rockwell HMIs. In addition to electrical control system integration, EDC completed a mechanical redesign to build new brackets and fixtures to retrofit the existing machine frame to accommodate the installation of the UV curing system, Lower Flammability Limit (LFL) sensors and printing equipment.

Results

Figure 1: Former Main OCS with many meters, buttons and a StrongArm HMI

ORAFOL now has a reliable, modern, state-of-the-art coating line. Old analog components are now digital. All the drives and touch screens are digitally connected over Ethernet. The old operator control station (OCS) full of meters and things to switch on and off (Figure 1) was replaced with two new user-friendly touchscreen PanelView Plus 6 HMIs (Figure 2). The new PanelView Plus 6 HMIs provide a graphical interface that allows the operator to view, monitor, and control all status information. In addition, the newer technology allows for adding recipes and modern functionality not available when the coating line was built 20 years ago.

In Figure 2, the screen on the left features a “bird’s eye view,” allowing visibility of the entire web path with key process variables.  The HMI on the right allows the operator to drill down into function-specific set-up, display and alarm screens. Operators can easily access recipes and set up one product to run today and another to run tomorrow with a few touches of the screen.  The preset recipes eliminate variations with the batches, now producing consistent quality. The graphic display also allows operators to visually detect any problems immediately and act quickly to resolve them.

The retrofit also enhanced safety with the introduction of a safety PLC, which provides better control and visibility of the large line. If an E-stop is depressed, the operator can see where and why on the HMI screen. The E-stop that was pushed is flashing to let operators know which one it is, aiding in quick resolution of the problem. Much of the coating area was explosive.  In these areas hardware and installation were rated for Explosion-proof Class I Div 1.

Figure 2: New Main OCS with two PanelView Plus 6-1500 HMIs

Temperature control is now centralized through the PLC and monitored at the Main OCS. Prior to the upgrade, operators had to change the temperature at each of the individual temperature controllers separately.  Now temperature changes are made with one touch on the display screen, or embedded in a product-specific recipe.

Energy savings usually come hand in hand with control system upgrades, especially when moving from legacy, inefficient DC drives to an inherently brushless VFD technology that also loses less of its input power to heat. For this project, additional energy savings came with the upgrade to the UV curing system, whose technology has improved significantly over the years.

Finally, with the remote access module installed into the machine, future engineering changes are much quicker and less expensive to implement. From troubleshooting a problem to changing a recipe, EDC can help via a secure encrypted virtual private network (VPN). A recent recipe change was completed via VPN by EDC in less time than it would have taken to drive to ORAFOL’s facility.

When interviewed after its completion, Gauer expressed his delight with the project, “The EDC team delivered exactly what was promised and worked with our engineers to customize the system to the satisfaction and ease of the machine operators. EDC demonstrates a very strong commitment to their technical expertise, understanding the latest products that are available and having a technical acumen with those products. They are proficient as well as being responsive and personable.”

Before and After PicturesEDC Before and After Photos ORAFOL

 

To learn more about this case study, click to download.

 

Film Coating Line Downtime Resolved with EDC’s Successful Drives & Controls Upgrade Using Rockwell Automation Products

Manufacturers across the country are faced with the challenges of costly downtime related toEDC coating lineaging equipment with obsolete drives and control systems. At some point, trying to patch and repair outdated systems becomes unrealistic. The good news is that investing in new advanced drive and control system technology can breathe new life into your equipment and provide a significant return on investment (ROI). The ROI can come in multiple forms including savings on downtime, improved system efficiencies, remote system capabilities, energy savings, increased safety, or a combination of those benefits. Our project at ORAFOL demonstrates how success can be achieved by investing in a major retrofit.

ORAFOL Americas Inc. is a global manufacturer of graphic films, reflective solutions, and adhesive tape products for a variety of industries. The company’s Avon, CT plant manufactures the leading brand of DOT-C2 compliant conspicuity tapes for the heavy-duty truck and trailer market.

ORAFOL was experiencing significant downtime on an existing film coating line due to aging equipment and legacy control systems. The company decided it was time for a major overhaul including replacing some equipment with new and retrofitting obsolete controls on the entire line. The coating process is very intricate, requiring expert engineering knowledge of complex winders, tension controls and web transport systems.

EDC provided a robust turnkey solution using Rockwell Automation technology and was responsible for all aspects of the project, both mechanical and electrical including design, procurement, removal, installation, along with the startup and tuning. In addition, EDC managed vendors, suppliers, other engineers, and machine shops; a lot had to come together at the same time to make a project of this magnitude flow smoothly.

ORAFOL now has a reliable, modern, state-of-the-art coating line with many benefits. To read a detailed case study on the project, click here or download the PDF.

When interviewed after its completion, ORAFOL’s Director of Engineering, Gary Gauer, expressed his delight with the project, “The EDC team delivered exactly what was promised and worked with our engineers to customize the system to the satisfaction and ease of the machine operators. EDC demonstrates a very strong commitment to their technical expertise, understanding the latest products that are available and having a technical acumen with those products. They are proficient as well as being responsive and personable.”

When the Problem Isn’t the Motor, It Doesn’t Mean It’s the Drive

Scott SullivanBlog post by Scott Sullivan, electrical engineer at Electronic Drives and Controls who specializes in on-site field service of AC drives.EDC motors drives

Recently, I was called in to troubleshoot a customer’s air handler drive. This particular unit was blowing fuses on its input from the main line. The customer’s in-house electrician correctly determined that something was drawing too much current. He then decided that the problem had to be with the drive or the motor. For testing purposes he bypassed the drive, which he believed left only the motor. When he attempted to start the motor, the fuses blew again. Since he believed the motor and drive were the only possible culprits and the drive was bypassed, he figured the motor had failed and so he installed a new motor. This time when he tried to start the new motor with the old drive, the fuses still blew. His determination was that both the motor and the drive had failed. At this point I was called in to troubleshoot.

After being given a brief summary of the problem, I started to examine the drive. After a thorough examination I didn’t find anything wrong with the drive that would explain the issue. To test my hypothesis, I disconnected the motor from the drive and tried to start. If the drive had been the problem, the fuses would have blown at this point. The fuses remained fine, so the problem was not between the main line and the drive. This left only the output wiring and the motor. Since the motor was brand new, it was unlikely to be the problem. Therefore, the output wiring was the only issue remaining. With the aid of the customer’s electrician, I ran new wire from the drive to the motor and tried to start. The motor and air handler started up without an issue. After examining the wiring I found that some of the insulation had worn off and part of the live wire was touching the metal conduit. This caused a short to ground and caused excessive current to be produced, thereby blowing the fuses. If the fuses had not blown, the drive would have most likely failed, possibly burnt up the new motor, and maybe even caused a fire.

The lesson to be learned here is that there are many causes for fuses failing. Just because you eliminate one cause doesn’t automatically mean it has to be something else. This customer spent money on a new motor when they probably didn’t need it. When you determine a problem has occurred and you don’t know how to fix it, the best solution is to ask for outside help. It may actually end up saving you money.

 

Behind the Scenes of EDC Emergency Services with Service Manager, Gregg Martin and Service Coordinator, Sal Zannino

Service Manager, Gregg Martin

Ever have a damaged VFD, PLC, or HVAC affect your business’ operations? Ever experience costly downtime due to equipment failure? Ever have this happen on Christmas Eve during the night shift in the middle of a snowstorm? We know this feeling. We understand the detrimental impact any of these situations could cause to the operations of your facility. That’s why we have a dedicated team of field service engineers ready to respond to your emergency service call at the drop of a hat!

Electronic Drives and Controls’ Service Manager, Gregg Martin and Service Coordinator, Sal Zannino are the men behind the scenes dispatching and one of fifteen qualified service engineers from EDC’s headquarters in Parsippany, NJ to across the Tri-State area and beyond. Gregg and Sal have been working in the service department of EDC for the past 13 years and have seen it all when it comes to emergency service calls. These service experts have the experience and knowledge necessary to get the right engineers out with the proper equipment as quickly and efficiently as possible in response to emergency service calls.

In a recent interview, Gregg shared details of the service department’s capabilities saying, “At any given time, 365/24/7, we have a team of 3 highly-trained service engineers on call, ready to respond to any emergency that comes our way. We generally operate in a 3-4 hour driving radius, serving locations in New Jersey (NJ), New York (NY), Pennsylvania (PA), Connecticut (CT), and Delaware (DE). Our engineers, on average, have about 10+ years’ experience in emergency service response, working with over 40 different drive and control brands. They will go above and beyond to make sure that emergency calls from both existing customers and first time callers are responded to in a timely fashion with quality work.”

Sal adds to Gregg’s comment by mentioning, “The service department also has an incredibly strong ability as a team to figure out the make, model and more of parts when a caller has no idea what they are looking at. This includes those 20-year-old, obsolete parts that may not have been touched for years.” Sal specifically points to EDC’s Senior Parts Specialist, Matt Pepe, as an expert in this area. Matt has been working in the service department of EDC for over 20 years. During that time, he has gained the knowledge and expertise it takes to figure out exactly what even the most unique parts are and then source a custom solution to take their place when necessary.

Service Coordinator, Sal Zannino

Finally, Gregg and Sal shared a list of information that they need to collect on any call that comes through to the service department. In the case of an emergency, having this information ready ahead of time will be of great benefit to the caller:

Product Information:

    • Manufacturer
    • Model number
    • Drawings
    • Owner’s manual
    • Cabling

Sal comments on the list saying, “Of course, if a caller does not have this information prepared we are still ready to help however we can! However, if they do have this information ready it will help us diagnose their problem and needs as quickly as possible.”

Senior Parts Specialist, Matt Pepe

Emergency service calls reach the desks of Gregg and Sal in EDC’s service department every day. The entire EDC team is committed to reducing the impact equipment problems have on customers by solving them as quickly as possible without sacrificing quality of work. EDC is also committed to operating in our client’s best interest by providing turn-key VFD replacements using our customer’s favored brand when repairs are not cost or time efficient. If you have an emergency with a control system (variable frequency drive (VFD), PLC, etc.) or other equipment in your facility, please contact us at 973.428.0500

Electronic Drives and Controls service vehicle fleet

A NYC Building with No A/C in the Middle of a Summertime Heat Wave!

On June 13th 2018 EDC received a worried call from Jack Resnick + Sons’ Chief Engineer Scott Stefanski, with a problem on the company’s property, One Seaport Plaza in New York City. Scott had discovered that the drive powering the building’s lobby air conditioning had gotten wet and was destroyed. As the heat in the lobby steadily increased, Scott realized this problem was going to cause more than just discomfort to the building’s patrons. The lobby also featured artwork worth millions of dollars that, if exposed to high levels of heat, would be destroyed. Knowing new drives usually require more lead time than he could get away with in anticipation of another 90-degree hot and humid day, Scott was scrambling to find a quick solution.

EDC’s Sales Representative Eric Dillard was the one to receive Scott’s late-afternoon emergency call. Immediately, Eric reached out to EDC’s Service Manager Gregg Martin, to see what he could do to help. Lucky for Scott, he reached EDC before the local vendors closed for the day.  After Gregg had made a series of unsuccessful calls, he was finally able to find Scott the appropriate replacement for the lobby’s broken drive.

Bright and early the next day, EDC sent out Scott’s new drive with Service Engineer, Marius Bagdonas. Marius was able to reach One Seaport, NYC early that afternoon and had the drive installed within 24 hours of Scott’s initial call.

Scott expressed his appreciation saying, “EDC did not have the drive we needed on hand but went out of their way to source it for us. The following afternoon they had the new drive installed and our lobby air conditioning was back up and running. EDC is a new vendor for us; I was really impressed and happy with how quickly they were able to respond and help us out of a critical situation. It’s refreshing to work with a company you can count on, and really cares about their customers. I have already been recommending EDC to my counterpart Chief Engineers at our other buildings!”

Emergency service calls like Scott’s come to the desks of EDC’s service department every day. EDC is committed to reducing the impact these types of problems have on customers by solving them as quickly as possible without sacrificing the quality of work. If you have an emergency with a control system (variable frequency drive (VFD), PLC, etc.) or other equipment in your facility, please contact us at 973.428.0500 .

 

 

Spare Equipment Needs Maintenance Too

Failure to maintain spare equipment can cost you money and downtime, as well as being a safety issue.

Scott SullivanBlog post by Scott Sullivan, electrical engineer at Electronic Drives and Controls who specializes in on-site field service of AC drives.

Nobody likes downtime. In industry, you lose money every minute that product isn’t going through a machine. In HVAC applications, downtime usually leads to complaints from sweaty people in the summer or freezing people in the winter. In extreme cases, having one machine down can cause other machines to run improperly, resulting in damage and more downtime. For simple applications, a bypass circuit can be implemented to prevent downtime but this comes at the cost of only being able to run at 100% speed. This forgoes the energy savings usually associated with drives and is incompatible with processes that require variable speed. When downtime isn’t an option and a drive is required, the most common solution is to have a spare AC drive on site for a quick installation. However, failure to maintain this spare equipment can lead to downtime anyway- and added costs.

Similar to how you can’t put a battery that’s been sitting in your garage for years right into your car, AC drives can’t just be wired in if they’ve been sitting on a shelf for years. AC drives contain capacitors, which have a very small amount of insulating oxide separating the conductive material. This material degrades over time but is chemically replenished within the capacitor as long as voltage is applied. If no voltage is applied, for example if the drive is in storage, the material still degrades. If you were to try to apply full line voltage to a degraded capacitor, it will most likely fail in a horrendous fashion due to this material shorting out.

So what do you do if you have a drive that has been sitting around for a while? Using the previous example of a car battery, you would hook the battery up to a trickle charger and let it sit for a day. AC drives require a very similar procedure where you hook up a lower voltage circuit to provide a small current to the capacitors. This allows them to chemically rebuild the insulating oxide layer without the danger of shorting the capacitors. For safety, a series resistor or a fuse is commonly used in case too much current is generated. This process is known as “reaging” or “reforming” the capacitors. Consult your user’s manual for the drive for specifics on how this is done. Typical times are 1 hour of charging per year of inactivity and should be performed every 1-2 years of inactivity. My recommendation is to write on the drive, in big black letters, the last date the drive was in service. That way you know if a charging is required and how long to charge if it is needed. If you are unsure of how long it has been since a drive was in use, call a service center. Most drive service companies will either let you send them the drive for capacitor testing or reform the caps on site at your location.

I’m reminded of a service call I had not too long ago. A customer’s drive had failed and it was going to be a couple weeks until I could get spare parts to repair it. The customer had a spare drive from a similar unit that was decommissioned and he asked if I could just install that drive in the meantime. The drive was compatible, but I could see from the manufacturer’s label that the drive was close to a decade old. I asked the customer when it was last in service and he said, rather vaguely, “not too long ago.” I explained the risks and he asked me to install it anyway. I installed the drive and shortly after powering it on there was a loud bang. One of the drive’s internal capacitors had exploded and damaged most of the drive’s other internal components. The drive was beyond economical repair, so the customer had to wait a few days until I could get another drive to install. It was at this point I learned the customer’s definition of “not too long ago” was about 6 years, whereas the manufacturer’s maximum idle time for the drive was 2 years.

Had the customer in my example been aware of this or kept some record of the last time the drive was in use, I would never have installed it. Capacitors exploding is dangerous to both equipment and nearby personnel. Always keep your spare equipment maintained and have the maintenance performed by qualified personnel. This customer ended up having to buy a new drive to replace the spare, money that he would not have had to spend if the drive was kept in working order or the capacitors were reformed.

 

Electronic Drives and Controls, Inc. Celebrates 50-Year Anniversary

Electronic Drives and Controls thanks loyal employees, customers and partners in celebration of a half century of providing innovative control system integration solutions and field service work for industrial automation and drive technology.EDC Celebrates 50 year anniversary

Parsippany, NJ – October 23, 2018 – Electronic Drives and Controls, Inc. (EDC), a leading control system integrator and field service company for industrial automation and drive technology, today announced October 2018 marks the company’s 50-year anniversary. Family owned and operated, the company was founded in 1968 by Henry H. Dillard, Jr. and his wife Naomi Dillard and is headquartered in Parsippany, NJ serving the Tri-State area and beyond.

Currently, EDC staff includes three generations of Dillards and 19 engineers and technicians. Naomi Dillard still answers the phone with same friendly southern Georgia accent she had 50 years ago and helps with accounts payable. At the helm of the company are the four children of Henry and Naomi: President, Henry H. Dillard, III, and Vice Presidents, Chuck Dillard, Deborah Dillard-Deluca, and Ben Dillard.

Company President Henry H. Dillard III remarked, “We are very grateful to those who have supported us and grown with us over the years. We credit our success to a strong base of loyal customers, key industry partnerships, and the hard work and dedication of our talented employees, many of which have been with our company for multiple decades. Our father’s core values of providing innovative solutions, responsive service, and fair prices remains our guiding principles for our company today.”

During the past 50 years, EDC has built a tradition of excellence in providing its customers with specialized preventive maintenance service and control system integration solutions for AC/DC drives, PLCs and factory automation. EDC is a factory authorized/factory trained service center for over 40 drive brands and has alliances with world class hardware and software providers. In addition, the company provides customers with reliable 24/7/365 emergency support services with a team of highly-trained service engineers on call, ready to respond.

The company hosted an open house and party on October 11, 2018 to celebrate its 50-year milestone with EDC’s employees, customers, partners, family and friends. “The celebration was a great opportunity to thank everyone and reminisce the years gone by. As a family, we are proud and honored to be carrying on our father’s legacy 50 years after it all started,” said Vice President Chuck Dillard.

About Electronic Drives and Controls, Inc.  
Founded in 1968, Electronic Drives and Controls, Inc. (EDC) is a CSIA Certified control system integrator with a large field service team specializing in AC and DC drives, PLCs and factory automation headquartered in Parsippany, NJ. Family owned and operated for 50 years, EDC’s team of engineers and technicians has great depth of experience integrating new control systems and breathing life into older equipment. EDC has the engineering capability to design, build, start-up and service projects from the sophisticated to the simple and the service support team on call 24/7/365 to keep it all running at peak efficiency from day 1 and for years to come. In addition to the company’s certification as a Siemens Solution Partner and a Rockwell Automation Recognized System Integrator, EDC is a factory authorized/factory trained service center for over 40 drive brands.

EDC Welcomes Tom Frangieh and Anthony Fasolo

Our team is growing!  We would like to introduce a couple of new faces you will be seeing on the Systems Team at Electronic Drives and Controls (EDC).

“We are very excited to have Tom Frangieh and Anthony Fasolo join the EDC team, both bring unique talents and skillsets which will help our team meet the ever expanding needs of our industrial automation customers,” said Chuck Dillard, vice president of engineering at EDC.

Tom Frangieh

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Tom Frangieh

Tom Frangieh recently joined the Systems Team at EDC, and is currently working with Anton Bergmann in the assembly area.  Tom is working on projects involving wiring control drives, PLCs and line reactors, and as he says, “all that good stuff.”  “I’m really excited to be part of this team,” Tom said.  “I feel like I’m learning a lot.”

Before coming to EDC, Tom was the warehouse manager for a technology company in Clifton, NJ.  Tom attended Berkeley College in West Patterson, NJ where he received his bachelor’s degree in sports management.

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Tom at work on an EDC Systems project!

Sports are a passion for Tom, who played goalie for his college soccer team for three years, and soccer, basketball and wrestling throughout high school.  “Soccer was my main sport; I had the most fun with that,” he said.

In addition to playing sports, Tom enjoys watching his favorite NFL team, the Dallas Cowboys. Not rooting for the hometown team can be tricky. Tom tells us he tries not to watch football with Giants fan and longtime pal and coworker Eric Dillard due to their friendly team rivalry.  When asked how he became a Cowboys fan, Tom quips, “My family are all Cowboys fans.  I was born into it!”

Aside from watching football, Tom also stays busy on the weekends working with his family’s Sparta, NJ-based business Fat Stevo’s Cheesesteaks.  Although the restaurant has only been open for a couple of years, it has quickly gained a loyal customer following and garnered several awards.  Fat Stevo’s was chosen by NJ.com as the #3 best cheesesteak in the state, and was recognized by Yelp as the #7 favorite place to eat around Jefferson.

 

Anthony Fasolo

Anthony Fasolo is currently the newest member of the EDC team.  Anthony is a project engineer and is working with Joe Maloney, Scott Pospishil, Zack Fischer, Joseph “Waldo” DeMartino and Antoinette Latella under the direction of engineering manager Shawn Leichliter.  Anthony comes to EDC from Rowan University, where he was pursuing his master’s degree and working at the Rowan University Virtual Reality Center.  Anthony had earlier graduated from Rowan with his bachelor’s degree in electrical and computer engineering with a minor in mathematics.

Anthony at the Rowan University Virtual Reality Center
Anthony at the Rowan University Virtual Reality Center

While working at the Rowan University Virtual Reality Center as an undergraduate, Anthony was invited to enroll in graduate school, funded by the Center.  In his experience there, he worked with many higher-level computer programming languages such as C and C Sharp, and did a lot with visualization – virtual and augmented reality.  Anthony’s favorite project while at the Virtual Reality Center was an application he developed for the Microsoft HoloLens, an augmented reality headset.  The HoloLens allows programmers to overlay information on whatever the wearer is viewing in the real world.

“I had a customer come to me and ask for a demo application to show his idea for training surgeons,” said Anthony.  “He wanted to display an instructional video in a floating screen on an augmented reality device.  The surgeon-in-training wears the device and watches the instructional video while performing a surgery, and controls it by voice commands.  Instead of having to leave the operating room and go watch the instructional surgery video on a TV and then come back to the operating room and try to remember it, the surgeon would be able to watch the training video while concurrently performing the surgery.  It was a very cool project, and the customer was really pleased in the end.”

After the Virtual Reality Design Center’s student funding ran out, Anthony left the college just a couple of classes shy of achieving his master’s degree.  Now at EDC, Anthony has been spending time becoming familiar with the software systems the company uses to program drives and control systems.  He says, “I have the knowledge for it, it’s just looking at something new and trying to figure out how it works.  I’ve always had hands-on experience with wiring and electronics because I worked as an alarm technician in the past.”

Anthony demonstrating the Surgeon Trainer application
Anthony demonstrating the Surgeon Trainer application

In his spare time, Anthony enjoys building hobby electronics.  He also enjoys watching professional football and hockey, and his all-time favorite team is the New Jersey Devils.

Anthony, like Tom, is a longtime friend of Eric Dillard – they all attended high school together!  Anthony looks forward to better getting to know the rest of the EDC staff.  “It’s been really good these first few days.  Everyone has been very helpful working with me and teaching me,” he said.  “They are good guys over here; I like it a lot.”

 

Popularity Soars for Annual EDC Wall Calendar, 38th Edition Coming Soon

1981: EDC’s first wall calendar
Dane Radford, son of an EDC employee, was recently at the bus transfer station in Secaucus, NJ, and on the wall in the back of the ticket office was a 2018 EDC wall calendar. “I asked the ticket agent where the calendar came from, because EDC doesn’t work with New Jersey Transit at this location,” said Dane. “The agent said he asked a friend for his calendar because he liked it so much. He said it’s so convenient to see the whole year at a glance. We don’t know which of EDC’s customers was the original calendar recipient, but we are happy to have the calendar in such a visible location!”

In 1980, EDC’s vice president Bud Dillard decided the company should allocate some of the marketing budget for promotional items such as caps, t-shirts, pens, etc. He came up with the idea to print wall calendars to send out to the company’s most important clients as holiday gifts. Bud originally wanted a 12-page Norman Rockwell version with heartwarming illustrations. Unfortunately, the price was too high to print the number of copies he wanted, so he settled on a less expensive wall calendar printed with the company’s name and contact information. Bud and the EDC team distributed all 150 copies in the first printing for the calendar year 1981.

Call the wall calendar design decision either dumb luck or good fortune, but the calendar program is still extremely popular at EDC. Fast forward 38 years and the popularity has been so great that EDC has capped printing at 5,200 copies for 2019. “We could probably distribute about 20,000 calendars if we wanted to – they are very popular with our clients,” said Bud. “We have kept the calendar printing cost proportional to our revenue, so the program has grown along with the company.”

EDC employees tell plenty of anecdotes about the popularity of the calendars. “One gentleman visits us in the office each year and asks for a calendar using sign language. We are happy to oblige him,” said Bud.

Sending out 5,200 calendars is a large undertaking each year for EDC. “Every year, as the calendar mailing project is in full swing, I swear this is the last year, never again, and it’s not worth it,” said Bud. “Then, within a couple months, someone says to me, ‘Hey, I saw your calendar! Jeez, your calendars are everywhere!’ Then I think… Hmmm, maybe one more year. I am presently in the never again mode.”

EDC Repairs “Unfixable” Elevator VFD, Saving Customer 90%

 

Novartis elevator VFD repair

For facility managers, an elevator being down is always an annoying issue to deal with. But when that elevator is one of just two in a major pharmaceutical headquarters’ 6-story parking garage serving multiple office buildings, the inconvenience for facility occupants’ commute exasperates the annoyance exponentially. This is exactly the situation Ken Prokop, facility manager at Novartis Headquarters, had on his hands when the critical parking garage elevator was down due to a 12-year-old VFD that was not performing properly.

Ken needed the elevator back in service quickly. He started his search for a solution with the seemingly obvious choice of the elevator vendor handling maintenance on the elevators. Unfortunately, the elevator vendor was not able to repair the drive. They suggested two alternatives: replace the drive with a new one or borrow a drive from one of the four elevators in the office buildings.  The quote for replacing the obsolete drive with the new proprietary drive had a price tag of nearly $50,000!  Swapping out the drive for one from a less-frequently-used elevator didn’t solve the problem – it just moved the problem.  There had to be a better choice available.

Looking for another option, Ken decided to call Sal Zannino, EDC’s service coordinator, to see if EDC could help. Novartis has been an EDC customer for over 25 years servicing all of the HVAC and pump systems.  “I like dealing with a local company.  Unlike at a national company, at EDC you deal with the same people every time.  I know who I’m speaking with, and who is coming out.  You get better service and it feels like a close-knit professional relationship,” said Ken. “We had never used EDC for an elevator drive, so I was not sure if they would be able to help.”

When Ken made his phone call to Sal, an EDC technician happened to be in one of Novartis’ buildings performing routine preventive maintenance (PM) service on the HVAC drives. Sal asked the EDC engineer to take a look.  Based on the engineer’s evaluation, Sal felt confident that EDC could address the elevator drive problem.

EDC is unique compared to most other service organizations in that it has two sides, a Service Division and a Systems Division.

The Systems team designs and builds full-scale automation control systems.  The 11-man Field Service Engineering Team performs site-wide VFD Preventive Maintenance programs, 24/7 on-site emergency VFD repairs, and new drive installations.  A special niche that EDC is becoming increasingly known for is the capability for providing turn-key control solutions for existing projects where new VFDs and PLC logic must seamlessly be interfaced with existing and sometimes antiquated control and mechanical systems. Both Service and Systems bring their own areas of expertise, and experience that spans decades.  Using cross-departmental collaboration where needed, EDC is a company uniquely qualified to take on virtually any control project with successful results, regardless of the difficult challenges.

Over a two-day period, EDC diagnosed the VFD, acquired the needed parts, and completed the repair. Repairs included component level Printed Circuit Board (PCB) repair, and replacement of various drive components, including capacitors.  EDC worked with the elevator manufacturer to ensure the special-order parts were obtained and delivered quickly to get the customer back in operation ASAP.   Once the repair was completed, the drive was dynamically load tested at EDC’s facility to ensure the drive ran reliably under full load conditions especially given the critical elevator application.  The drive was successfully installed, returning the elevator to normal service.

Novartis was very pleased with the repair’s cost and EDC’s effort to expedite the timeline.  The total cost of the repair was 90% less than if Novartis had replaced the drive, and downtime had been kept to a minimum through the process.

“We have been working together for 20-plus years and have established a strong professional relationship. EDC has always come through for us for all of our drive work – for maintenance, malfunctions and VFD upgrades / VFD replacements – and restored our systems accordingly. EDC has consistently given us good, cost-effective options to get our operations back online again,” said Ken.

The cost to repair the drive was a small fraction of what it would cost to replace, and the building occupants are happy to have the critical elevator back in service.  If it happens again, Novartis now knows who to call.  Until then, EDC technicians will go back to work ensuring that the hundreds of drives at Novartis’ headquarters in East Hanover continue providing maximum energy savings and reliable operation for many more years to come.

An Annealing Upgrade Cuts Waste and Improves Quality for Wire Manufacturer

A high-end wire and cable manufacturer in Connecticut had several older Syncro wire drawing lines with continuous-resistance annealing.  Some of the lines had a fixed voltage process consisting of a contactor, transformer, and manually-set voltage taps while others had variable voltage supplies.  With fixed voltage, the annealing process cannot begin until the line is at running speed. The variable-voltage design lacked a control algorithm to properly control the voltage as a function of line speed to maintain a constant elongation of the wire.  EDC upgraded the existing drives with state-of-the-art Vector AC drives and EDC’s AlphaNeal™ Annealer Control with its field proven square root and annealer control algorithm.

EDC annealing upgradeIn the continuous-resistance annealing process, the secondary of the step-down transformer is connected to the wire through a rotating sheave. The voltage potential and the low resistance of the wire cause a high current to flow through the wire, heating it up. If the wire was not passing over the sheave at a high speed, it would melt. The root mean square (RMS) power level has to increase with speed. Too little power results in hard wire and too much can burn, discolor or melt the wire. EDC has mastered the control of the annealing process solving mathematical equations in real time to provide repeatability of a quality product.   EDC is able to provide a constant anneal from near zero speed to full speed and back to zero at varying line speeds resulting in a predictable, flexible, and more resilient product for secondary processes and final sale to the customer.

EDC Systems specializes in the wire and cable industry. We have retrofitted and built new applications for hundreds of annealing sections of copper and aluminum wire drawing lines ranging from 15kVA to 850kVA. Our team looks at the customer’s entire process – from the drawing machine, the annealer, to the spooler. In addition to utilizing our control solution with an algorithm to vary the voltage to the sheaves as a function of line speed in order to maintain a constant anneal, we oversize the power section.  The system is digital and thus can be recipe-driven and controlled from an HMI and PLC. The result is a controller that will give the customer the performance and reliability that EDC is known for in the industry.

Many wire manufacturing plants around the world have wire drawing machines dating back to the 1970s. Many machines are workhorses and have proven to be reliable with a long productive life. However, technology has come a long way and machine upgrades can incorporate design improvements that can substantially improve productivity, serviceability, and the economic life of older drawing lines. EDC has retrofitted drawing lines from industry leaders like Syncro, Niehoff, SAMP, and more. Contact us today if you would like to evaluate a retrofit plan.

Controls System Upgrade Reduces Waste, Saving Thousands of Dollars in Revenue for Potato Chip Manufacturer

In this case study, we are sharing how a manufacturer of premium potato chips resolved an unacceptable amount of food waste in the manufacturing process.

Problem

A premium potato chip manufacturing company had grown substantially since the company openedElectronic Drives and Controls potato chip control system upgrade nearly 3 decades ago. As the company grew its product line and volume, its founding passion for creating delicious, top-quality chips remained the highest priority. Top-quality demands high standards. With aging equipment in its plant, the company was struggling with a rising waste percentage resulting in lost revenue.

The potato chip manufacturing facility produces 25,000 pounds of chips every eight hours and operates 24 hours a day, 6 days a week.  There were two points on the line that were causing the majority of the waste.  First, in the bagging area, the loss of mounds of chips dropping to the plant floor was unacceptable; chip overflow needed to be addressed. Quality control was another culprit of the waste problem. The chips cannot be undercooked or overcooked to meet the brand’s high-quality standards. Entire batches were being dumped if the appropriate high temperature fry time was not achieved or if the chips were overcooked.

With older equipment and an aging Rockwell Automation control system, the plant manager was looking for an expert control system integrator to help resolve the waste issues and who could also provide continued support with a quick emergency response time. The company reached out to Rockwell Automation for assistance and was referred to Electronic Drives and Controls, Inc. (EDC). As a Rockwell Automation Recognized System Integrator, EDC has proven expertise in upgrading this automation technology and EDC’s quick emergency response time is what the plant manager needed.

Solution

To address the waste of chips falling to the floor in the bagging section, EDC spent time observing the manufacturing process from the fryers to the bagging section. The chips move from the fryers to a FastBack horizontal motion conveyor, which shakes the chips onto an incline conveyor which then takes the chips to the bagging section. Baggers were being overloaded with chips and creating spillage. To resolve the problem, EDC added sorting logic to the control system to evenly distribute chips to the baggers to avoid overloading any one bagger. They also adjusted the time delays of the different sections so that a moderate amount of chips occupied each section as opposed to an overflowing amount. This reduced the number of chips on the floor.

After evaluating the current equipment and manufacturing process, EDC recommended upgrading and consolidating the older fryer equipment’s control system to resolve the quality control problem. Previously, each of the plant’s seven fryers had a legacy Allen Bradley SLC-500. Each fryer’s PLC had its own unique programming and operator interface.  The lack of standardization was contributing to errors resulting in overcooked or undercooked batches.  EDC’s plan included standardizing fryer programming and consolidating the control of all seven fryers to one centralized PLC using Allen-Bradley’s state-of-the-art CompactLogicx PLC. The centralized PLC communicates to the existing supervisory PLC and to EDC’s recommended upgraded touch screen HMIs for user-friendly operator monitoring and control.

For less disruption of production, EDC upgraded 1 to 2 fryers at a time to slowly migrate all fryers’ control to the new centralized PLC. In addition, EDC added quality control logic to prevent dumping entire batches. The new PLC alarm prevents undercooking by notifying the operators if the batch has not cooked at the designated temperature for at least 5 minutes and automatically shuts down the fryer until the issue is acknowledged by a supervisor.

Overcooking is now prevented by getting the chips out of the fryer faster.  EDC reconfigured the Takeout Cycle controls, which have been modified so the chips are cooked in one single pass through the fryer, instead of the 2-3 passes previously used.

While modifying the process, EDC took the opportunity to improve the programming on the fryer’s slicer conveyor, saving 1-2 minutes per batch with more efficient conveyor logistics.  This has improved batch production by over 40% per hour.

Results

The customer has been able to increase overall production by 50%, and is seeing a continued decrease in waste percentages from improvement in quality control with the fryer upgrades. Chips on the floor of the bagging area have been greatly reduced. They have also seen throughput of all the fryers increase.

To provide ongoing support, EDC’s engineers can use a virtual private network (VPN) to log into the control system to quickly diagnose and resolve problems or adjust programming logic for change requests. In addition, EDC provides 24/7 emergency support, connected or dispatched within two hours or less.

If you are interested in learning how a control system upgrade can help your facility please contact us, we are here to help!

Controls System Upgrade Reduces Waste, Saving Thousands of Dollars in Revenue for Potato Chip Manufacturer

In this blog post we are sharing how a manufacturer of premium potato chips resolved an unacceptable amount of food waste in the manufacturing process.

A premium potato chip manufacturing company had grown substantially since the company openeElectronic Drives and Controls potato chip control system upgraded nearly 3 decades ago., As the company grew its product line and volume, its founding passion for creating delicious, top-quality chips remained the highest priority. Top-quality demands high standards. With aging equipment in its plant, the company was struggling with a rising waste percentage resulting in lost revenue.

After evaluating the current equipment and manufacturing process, EDC recommended upgrading and consolidating the older fryer equipment’s control system to resolve the quality control problem.  Check out our case study (LINK) to find out how the customer was able to increase overall production by 50% and reduce waste percentages.  If you are interested in learning how a control system upgrade can help your facility please contact us, we are here to help!

Click here to read the entire case study.

EDC Systems Spotlight: Shawn Leichliter

Shawn LeichliterMeet Shawn Leichliter, EDC Systems group’s dedicated engineering manager.  Shawn has been an integral part of the EDC team for a decade and a half; celebrating his 15-year anniversary with the company in May 2019.  Chosen for the spotlight by the executive team, Shawn is described as an intelligent, logical, and hard-working employee who puts in long hours when required to keep his projects on schedule.  Although normally soft spoken, Shawn becomes animated when talking about his 15-year-old son Jacob.  When the weather is nice, Shawn’s co-workers know to look for his Goldwing motorcycle parked in front of the building.

“Shawn is a pleasure to work with. His even temper, great work ethic and extraordinary intellect make him a key to our continued success,” said Chuck Dillard, vice president of EDC.

Shawn Leichliter
Shawn and Jacob visiting the Great American Ballpark in Cleveland, OH on their annual motorcycle road trip

After serving our country in the US Army and earning his degree in electrical engineering, Shawn started at EDC as a service technician. After just a year he moved over to the Systems side of the business where his electrical engineering talents helped strengthen our systems team.  A fast learner, after a couple of years Shawn was promoted to engineering manager, which is his role today.  Shawn works with Chuck to manage EDC’s engineers and project assignments, as well as the panel builders in the shop.

Shawn has been intimately involved with important EDC projects that have helped grow the company.  He worked on the dual constant vulcanizing (CV) line project, one of EDC’s first multi-million-dollar projects.  The CV line makes a rubber-jacketed cable; the bare cable has up to three layers of coating extruded on it, at least one of which is a thick, insulating rubber layer which must be “cured” with heat and pressure.  After the extrusion, the cable goes into a tube where there is pressurized steam for a couple hundred feet, and then into water to cool the cable.  This project required 20 variable frequency drives (VFDs), seven human-machine interfaces (HMIs), and a large amount of remote I/O.

Shawn designed a product named Omega Wind, which is one of the few machines at EDC to be built more than once.  Ordinarily, EDC custom designs equipment tailored to the needs of a unique manufacturing situation.  Omega Wind is EDC’s name for the company’s traverse winder, a machine that winds strips of metal onto spools.  The Omega Wind carefully controls the spacing of the metal strips so that it “hits” the operator-prescribed number of turn points.  “For instance, three turn points means we will traverse across a reel, ending at 60 degrees, come back at 120 degrees, return at 180 degrees, come back again at 240 degrees, returning once again at 300 degrees and finally coming back at 0,” said Shawn. “Then it starts all over.  We have three distance turn points, one flange, and three more at the other, all evenly spaced.  The machine is all about getting the most material on a reel neatly so that when it unspools there are no issues.  We’ve probably sold more than 20 copies of the Omega Wind.”

Shawn Leichliter
Shawn and wife Lisa at Rockefeller Center

Staying on the cutting edge of control system and automation technologies, Shawn learned the Siemens S120 drive protocol, and was the first engineer in the company to use it when he designed a highly advanced dual loop slitter.  Shawn also brought motion technology to EDC with the design of turret winders for Black Clawson Converting Machinery.

A native of northwestern New Jersey, Shawn grew up in Phillipsburg.  After high school, Shawn enlisted in the US Army, serving for 6 years as an Electronic Warfare Avionics Systems Repairer.  He was deployed to Saudi Arabia for Operations Desert Shield and Storm.  After returning, Shawn attended nearby Lehigh University and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering.  While at Lehigh, Shawn participated in ROTC and got his commission as 2nd Lieutenant in the Army Signal Corps.  After graduation he served in the Reserves as a Platoon Leader for a Tropospheric Scattering Communication station.

Shawn and his wife Lisa currently live in Blairstown, NJ with their 15-year-old son Jacob.  When not at work, Shawn runs a small business called Rail-Lynx, making infrared controls for model trains.  Shawn takes advantage of all the good weather days he can to ride his Goldwing motorcycle, often driving it to work at EDC. Shawn and Jacob enjoy their annual motorcycle road trip together, visiting fun attractions along the way.

Asked what he likes best about working at EDC, Shawn said, “I get to work on a wide variety of challenging projects in a friendly, close knit atmosphere where I know my contributions are appreciated.”

Shawn Leichliter Goldwing
Shawn taking delivery of his Goldwing motorcycle

Need an Expert on Control Techniques, Emerson or Nidec Drives and Motors? EDC is Your Go-to-Resource!

EDC believes in investing in continuing professional development; keeping employees educated with the latest VFD and automation technology advances of the more than 40 brands we service and are factory trained and/or authorized on is a top priority. We appreciate the dedication and commitment our employees show in upholding our high standards.

Our EDC service engineers and Nidec Field Engineer and Trainer, Stan Klepadlo, displayed just that sort of dedication and commitment when braving a late-February snowstorm for training on Emerson, Control Techniques and Nidec VFDs. EDC provided the pizza as our employees and Stan stayed late into the evening for two consecutive nights of hands-on training during the raging snowstorm after a long day of work! The training included our entire team earning certification on Control Techniques HVAC Drive H300 Digital Bypass.3:30 p.m. - 4:15 p.m. Track 1 Lyman Tschanz & Dick Ciammaichella What's the role of a system integrator supporting a customer on their digital transformation journey? Many of our manufacturing customers are being challenged by their C-Level executives to transform their manufacturing operations using software tools, like those found at the IT levels, to leverage the data found in the factory in order to drive business improvements - making them more competitive in their markets. Their immediate challenge is where to start and how to find projects that show enough ROI to encourage additional investments. System integrators are in a perfect position to help. Learn how your experiences at your customers can position you as a valuable asset for them to start their journey toward business transformation using IIOT strategies and how you can help them get started tomorrow. Track 2 Don Ulrich Peer Groups "Match.com" (Workshop) Ever want to have an open and honest discussion with a peer at another SI to get some real insight into a critical issue or just bounce around an idea? Want to find out how the other guys really do it? Want to learn from others who have solved something that your company struggles with, while being willing to share some of your proud achievements? This session provides an environment for interested companies to learn more about what Peer Groups are, the benefits, and guidelines on how to join or create one. A panel of representatives from current Peer Groups will help answer your questions for you to determine if this is right for your company. This session will be followed up with opportunities for interested individuals to meet each other and determine if they are a good fit and want to form a Peer Group. 3:30 p.m. – 5 p.m. Track 3 Tanya Donnelly How social selling helps grow your business Your employees are one of your best advocates for your company. Learn how Linkedin and Twitter can become one of your highest lead generating tools by changing profiles from resumes to building customer relationships.

“Having a long history of working with EDC, I have to say it is obvious that EDC has really high standards when it comes to hiring service engineers. The training on the drives quickly accelerated beyond the basics as EDC’s engineers began asking questions which prompted the training to elevate to a more advanced technical session,” commented Stan. “With EDC’s large, experienced team and prompt response time, it is good to know that our customers can count on a highly-reliable resource when needed.”

In 2017, Control Techniques and Emerson’s Industrial Automation division were acquired by Nidec Corporation from Emerson Electric Company. Control Techniques is now part of the Nidec Motor Corporation.  Together their portfolio of products includes AC, DC, and servo variable speed drives as well as power conversion technologies. For more than 40 years, these brands have been trusted in many commercial and industrial markets – HVAC, elevator, manufacturing automation, and industrial applications which demand energy efficiency, such as fans, pumps and compressors.

 

Technical review by Scott Sullivan, electrical engineer at EDC

Scott SullivanControl Techniques’ representative, Stan, started off the training session by highlighting the differences between the company’s now obsolete Affinity series drive and the new H300 series drive.

The first difference of note is that the H300 has an additional programmable form C-relay output. These outputs are used when drive-specific conditions occur and an external system, such as a building management system (BMS), needs to be notified. There are several instances where these could be used, the most common being a fault output. If the drive faults, a relay will open to alert the BMS and another will close to illuminate a fault indicator. Another possible use could be for a drive started condition. In HVAC, the drive start condition can be used to open a damper, which will in turn allow the drive to run once it is fully opened. A third possible use is for a drive running condition. This can be used in HVAC for a supply and return fan. The start command for the return fan is routed through the supply fan’s running relay. This prevents the return from running unless the supply is running and automatically stops the return when the supply stops. These 3 examples are some of the many uses of relays. The inclusion of an additional relay on the H300 drive allows for greater flexibility when incorporating it into a system.

The H300 drive also has slots for expansion ports to extend the drive’s functionality. If the customer has a specific need that the “out of the box” drive can’t provide, these expansion ports can be used to meet that need. An example of this might be if a specific type of serial communication is used (i.e. BACnet, Profibus, CANopen etc.), the drive can be made to support it even if it does not natively. The expansion ports can also be used to expand the drive’s I/O capabilities. While the base drive already has an impressive suite of digital and analog I/O, if the customer requires more of one or both of these, it can be accomplished by these expansion ports.

Another upgrade of the H300 series is the inclusion of a real time clock and programmable events that utilize it. This can be used to start and stop the drive or change its output frequency at specific times of the day or week, without the aid of a BMS. While external control of a drive is commonplace, there are times that these events could be useful. An example might be a building that is still under construction. A BMS would probably be implemented when the building is completed, but in the meantime these events could be used to control water pumps and cooling fans. Examples of programmable events could be starting a drive before employees arrive in the morning and shutting down at night after they leave, or perhaps reducing a drive to a minimum speed on Friday afternoons and returning it to full speed Monday morning. These events add flexibility when choosing how to install this type of drive.

 

Our customers rely on our field service engineers to be experts on the VFD drives keeping their building and manufacturing facilities running at peak efficiency and that is exactly what we deliver. EDC is brand neutral, therefore our service engineers are continuously updating training certifications on over 40 brands of drives and PLCs.

 

Additional Resources:

http://acim.nidec.com/en-us/drives/control-techniques/news-and-media/news/2017/nidec-completes-acquisition-of-control-techniques-and-leroy-somer

https://www.nidec.com/en-NA/corporate/news/2017/news0201-02/

EDC Supports Local Charities Through Golf Tournament

 

Electronic Drives and Controls is a sponsor of the first annual golf tournament held by Electronic Drives and Controls golfAmerican Legion Post 86 in Newton, NJ.  The company is sponsoring hole competitions for most accurate drive, closest to the pin, and longest drive in the tournament.

On Friday, May 10, 2019, the tournament will be held at the Highpoint Country Club in Montague, NJ (rain or shine).  The event is open to the public, and golfers can register by calling the Legion Post at 973-383-2386 or by emailing Chuck Dillard.  Proceeds support several local events, including holiday parties for disadvantaged children.  Hole sponsorships are still available.

 

Date:                    Friday, May 10, 2019 Rain Postponement! June 7th, 2019

Location:             Highpoint Country Club, Montague, NJ

Registration:       Phone the Legion Post at 973-383-2386 or email Chuck Dillard

Options:              Ask about the catering package and evening banquet

Hole sponsorships still available

Things to Consider When Selecting a Systems Integrator

Choosing a System IntegratorAre you asking enough of the right questions when choosing a systems integrator to modify your critical systems? Simply asking whether someone is familiar with the hardware and software is not enough.

  • Do they know my application?
  • Is there a production schedule to assure on-time delivery?
  • Is the software robust?
  • Do they have complete control of the quality of the manufacture of my system?
  • Are they financially sound?
  • Is their documentation complete and are they forthcoming with all documentation?
  • Will they be able to support my future service needs?

Electronic Drives and Controls is built to meet all of these critical requirements. With over 50 years in business, our team has over 200 collective years of application experience.  Our systems are always fully tested prior to shipment.  Our in-house manufacturing passes multiple quality checkpoints during the engineering and manufacturing process.  We are CSIA certified, which is a rigorous, independent validation of an integrator’s business and project management skills.  We deliver complete documentation to the customer which is archived both on-site and offsite.  Our service team is nationally recognized.

This combination will assure timely delivery of a quality product that can be supported so you can confidently pursue and succeed in the execution of your business plan.

Call us to find out how you can assure success on your next integration project.

A Custom HVAC Vibration Safety Solution for a Large Commercial Property

EDC has worked with many high-profile buildings in NYC for decades and has the necessary security clearances to access sensitive facilities.  This is a case study of one client with whom we worked to create a custom solution to a potentially very dangerous problem.

Problem:

A prominent commercial property in NYC was periodically experiencing severe vibration with the chiller fans in their HVAC system.  The vibration was sometimes so severe that the property management team was concerned that a large fan blade could come loose, creating an extreme safety hazard for employees, tenants, equipment as well as the facility.

 

Solution:

Electronic Drives & Controls implemented a custom safety system on the commercial property’s rotating equipment.  This turnkey installation automated the shutdown of a series of fans if the vibration level exceeded a specified level, ultimately preventing issues by allowing management to address the problem before allowing the fan to restart.

EDC installed sensors in the fan handling units to detect the vibration velocity of the fans.  The solution consisted of a programmable logic controller (PLC), variable frequency drive (VFD), vibration measurement hardware, network gateways, and wireless spread spectrum radios. EDC subcontracted the appropriate trades and also worked in conjunction with the building management system (BMS) provider to interface the EDC system with the BMS via Modbus TCP/IP.  Due to the physical location of the equipment, the information was transmitted over a 2.4 Ghz FM spread spectrum secure link.

Knowing there would be occasions where the fan needed to maintain continued full operation when the VFD is shut down, EDC configured a bypass to disable the VFD and communicate directly to the motor to run at full speed. This would keep the HVAC system completely functional and operational during exceptions, such as when EDC is performing preventive maintenance (PM) tasks.  Additionally, the bypass circuits were also modified to shut down and stop the motor if the vibration sensor detects vibration outside the established velocity parameters.

At EDC, we pride ourselves in helping our customers keep their facilities running at peak efficiency and safety. We are a factory authorized/factory trained service center for over 40 drive brands, and have alliances with world class hardware and software providers. If you are interested in learning more about our services, please contact us, we are here to help!

 

EDC Service Spotlight: Eric Dillard

EDC Service Specialist Eric Dillard is a third generation Dillard working in the family business helping to keep his grandfather’s legacy alive and thriving 50 years after it all started! Eric loves his work with the family business as he noted, “There’s nothing better than seeing your Grandma at work!”

A day at work in the life of Eric Dillard is anything but typical; it’s a new adventure every day! Eric particularly loves the days going into NYC to visit current customers and drum up new business. While these days are long for Eric given the commute in and out of the city – he’s up at 4:30 am on his NYC days – the energy he feels from the city is worth the long hours. Eric has noted that there’s just something about the people that work in NYC; they are warm and inviting and he finds the camaraderie and support he receives when they find out he is part of a family-run, five-decade strong family business is very welcoming.

Eric started at EDC in 2012 when he was just 19 years old. When he was attending college at DeSales University, Eric worked at EDC during his winter and summer breaks. In his early years of college, he was doing miscellaneous work from data entry to organizing shelves in the shop. In his later years of college, Eric started building and wiring electrical panels in the shop for the systems side of the company where he learned how electrical parts work.

Eric is a huge NY Yankees fan, he is pictured here at a game with his mom Mary.

While at college, Eric was a pitcher for the DeSales Bulldogs and from there baseball allowed him to travel to California, Nevada, Texas, Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, and the Dominican Republic to pursue his passion and play baseball in different areas of the country.  Eric currently trains younger players at a local baseball facility with a focus on pitching instruction and continues to play in a men’s summer league.

After graduating from DeSales University with a degree in business and communications, Eric was offered a sales position on the service side of the company. Eric started off his new position with extensive training on how VFDs, electricity, and systems work. Then he learned the ropes by going to customer sites with EDC’s technicians, helping with installations of VFDs, troubleshooting on service calls, and doing preventive maintenance.

Eric and cousin Jessica, fellow Sales teammate

Eric’s current responsibilities consist of trying to grow relationships with existing customers and build new relationships with potential customers all over the Tri-State area. “I mainly find myself in skyscrapers in NYC focusing on educating customers and potential customers on the value of preventive maintenance and the energy savings opportunity installing variable frequency drives (VFDs) offers,” said EricEric also works with factories, pump houses, corporate buildings, sewage plants, prisons, etc. – basically, anywhere there is an electric motor. Eric works with customers and EDC engineers and technicians to scope out potential work. When a customer moves forward with a project, Eric will help manage the project and work to be done.

Eric is originally from Randolph, NJ and moved to the rural and scenic Township of Green, NJ in 2000 with his parents and sister when he was just in 2nd grade. He lived out in Truckee, California for 2 summers and has done other traveling, but he currently lives back with his parents Chuck and Mary Dillard in Green where he enjoys hanging out with his friends, family and his three dogs, Eli (white German shepherd), Heidi (St. Bernard), and Cali (beagle, pit bull, shepherd, etc. mix).

While not at work, Eric has a lot of activities he enjoys. As much as Eric enjoys the city, he also loves the wilderness and mountains. In fact, one of his favorite things to do is go hiking at the Delaware Water Gap with his dogs. He also loves traveling and just recently got back from a trip to Europe.

Eric is a huge sports fan, the NY Yankees and Giants are his favorite teams, and he has continued his passion for playing baseball by participating in local summer leagues. Eric also loves music and enjoys jamming with his friends and going to all types of concerts and music festivals.

Eric with Grandma Naomi – who co-founded the company with her husband

Eric summed up for us what he loves best about working in the family business:

“The best thing about EDC is the people I work with. EDC has a great group of people that are always willing to help each other and work together as a team to get the job done. I love working with my family. I get to see my Grandma, Aunt, Uncles, Dad, Cousins, and family friends almost every day. I know many people don’t get to see their families as much as they would like because of work so I think it is great seeing my family while I’m at work. On top of seeing my family at work, they are also always there for me if I have a question or need some help. It is great knowing that my family is always there for me and it makes coming to work every day worth it!”

Eli, Heidi, and Cali

A Drive Service Call We Planned for During The Reagan Administration

Old photograph custom variable speed driveEarlier this year, we received a service request that was both unusual and came about completely by design.

The call was coming from over 1,000 miles away from our New Jersey facility – in Florida.  The customer had a custom drive that we had built over 30 years ago – and it was still in service!  

Although this customer’s company had been sold nearly 20 years ago, the new owners were still easily able to find us and get in contact. (To illustrate just how long ago this was, we were all using beepers when this variable speed drive was first installed and the customer found us via this newfangled “Internet.”)

The variable speed drive (VSD) flew up to our Parsippany facility and through some troubleshooting, our engineer quickly realized that the problem was power related. (To again illustrate how long ago the installation was:  This same engineer was living in Soviet-controlled Lithuania, unaware of the concept of solid state variable speed drives entirely, when we originally built this one.) Although the fuse manufacturer had also changed names and moved locations, our engineer didn’t hit that obstacle. Instead, he walked across our warehouse and pulled down the exact fuses he needed off the shelf.

In less than two days, the drive was running well and headed back to the Sunshine State.  

So, although the geographic distance and time distance between service calls (three decades!) make this call somewhat unusual, our process was not.  The way we’ve always approached our work is just as successful now as it was then. In particular here, we leaned on:

  • Documentation: EDC still uses a version of the ID tag with the drawing information on it and has the exact drawing of this system in its files! 
  • Brand Agnostic: We regularly service over 40 brands, so our inventory is often sufficient.
  • Longevity: Our company has been around for over 50 years and plans to be here for the next 50.   So while we can’t guarantee how you’ll find us, we plan to be here when you look.

Reducing Energy Consumption Through VFDs

If reducing your energy bill wasn’t enough to have you improving efficiency… boy, has the New York City Council lit an environmentally-friendly fire under the building industry’s motivation!  As part of NYC’s recently passed Climate Mobilization Act, large commercial buildings will be required to cut emissions 40% by 2030 and 80% by 2050, with expensive penalties if they fail to meet those goals. While the details may vary based on building use and other factors, the message is the same for all property owners: make a plan now to drastically reduce energy consumption.

Going far beyond the simple changes like switching to LED lighting or automating temperature control, buildings must start deep energy retrofits – and soon – to meet the new requirements. Deep energy retrofits address the energy consumption of an entire system.  

Variable frequency drives (VFDs) can drastically reduce energy consumption in a number of systems, including HVAC, elevators, water, and more.  That is where Electronic Drives and Controls’ expertise will come in very handy – whether or not your facility is located in NYC.

 

What are VFDs and how do VFDs reduce energy consumption for Fans and Pumps?

When motors installed in HVAC systems are run “across the line,” or at full speed regardless of the process demand, all or nearly all of the motor’s full load current is utilized and the motor consumes full electrical power.  A fan or pump motor controlled by a VFD is capable of being slowed down to meet the changing cooling and heating requirements – i.e. less liquid or air flow when full capacity is not needed. The energy savings may be greater than you think: for HVAC motors, the energy consumption is reduced by the cube of the speed! As an example, a fan run at just 90% of full speed will draw 27% less power.  For a building with motors adding up to a few hundred horsepower this could mean tens of thousands of dollars in savings annually!

Download detailed VFD project savings example

 

How can EDC make energy reduction with VFDs easier?

While adopting VFDs may feel abrupt and overwhelming to some, EDC has been providing services that will help address these requirements for over 50 years. We break it down into three simple steps: Audit. Execute. Optimize.

HVAC System Audits

Our expert engineers and technicians can audit your existing HVAC systems and equipment and make recommendations about where VFDs could be installed or upgraded to maximize energy savings.  Our on-site surveys are provided free of charge and culminate with project proposal.

VFD Project Execution

Upgrades and Retrofits

EDC works with over 40 brands of drives. Our engineers have designed and installed thousands of fan and pump VFDs and control systems. We can provide turnkey project installation services for one or one hundred VFDs. Let us assist with project payback justification to help management see the benefits of funding it.

Rebates

To make it even easier to justify your project, your state or local power company likely provides rebates for installing new VFDs.  In NYC, Con-Ed recently increased their VFD rebate incentives from $.19 to $.25/KWh and up to 70% of project cost!* Electronic Drives is a Con-Ed certified Participating Contractor and can help you wade through the paperwork to ensure you maximize the available rebates, get the project approved, and get it done.

*Rebate incentives are subject to change.  More information can be found on Con-Edison’s Energy Incentives page.

Ongoing Equipment Optimization

Preventive Maintenance

A well-planned, well-implemented system is only effective if it is maintained. Regular service through preventive maintenance (PM) keeps your system optimized so you continue to receive the full payback from your investment in upgraded equipment. It also extends the life of existing equipment and reduces the risk of unplanned outages. Let EDC customize a PM plan to meet the needs of your new and existing VFDs.

Service

Of course, when emergencies or odd-hour rescues are needed, our service team is available 24/7/365. We have a minimum of two service engineers on call every night and available to travel where needed. Supplemented with drive repair capabilities and a rental drive inventory, we’ll be sure to get you back in action in short order.

It’s all under control

Don’t let the new energy emission laws work you into a panic.  Our team and their decades of experience can help you plan, upgrade, and maintain motor, fan, and pump systems efficiently.

Pro-active clients who take advantage of rebates and install energy-saving VFDs on all possible HVAC and Pump applications, and who take steps to ensure their VFDs run at peak performance through qualified service and maintenance, will position themselves not only to reduce their energy bills but also avoid steep non-compliance penalties.

 

Envelope Converting Machine Control and Drive System Upgrade

Downtime Resolved and Operator Control Simplified  

“We are very happy with our recent control system upgrade to the packing list envelope line. The equipment operates much better than it used to. EDC’s engineering team communicated with us extensively during the project to really understand our needs. This included streamlining the controls with advanced technology to simplify operator control making it user-friendly and easy for operators. Now it takes just two weeks to train a new operator before they can run the line on their own, a much quicker learning curve to bring new employees up to speed.”

Vergilio Jacinto, ADM Production Manager – First Shift

BACKGROUND

Founded in 1964, ADM Corporation is the industry leader in the manufacturing and supply of high-quality pressure sensitive envelopes and packaging and shipping products worldwide. ADM puts quality first in all aspects of the business including strict quality control standards; whether it is investing in new equipment or keeping current equipment in peak operating condition, ADM is proactive.

PROBLEM

Downtime for one of ADM’s envelope converting lines for its pressure sensitive envelopes had become problematic and costly. The equipment’s legacy Indramat drive and control system was causing the increased downtime. Finding replacement parts for the obsolete system was difficult at best.

  

SOLUTION

EDC is an expert in control and drive systems for converting, coating and laminating processes and equipment. EDC has worked with ADM for 24 years upgrading equipment and providing 24/7 responsive service when needed. “If we have issues with our equipment, we always try to fix the problem with our in-house resources first. If we can’t resolve the problem in-house, we call EDC. We have tried another less expensive resource and always come back to EDC. They are very responsive, know what they are doing and work well with our people,” said Susan Mota, VP of Operations.

One of the keys to success for any upgrade/retrofit project is understanding the process and thoroughly evaluating what current drive and control components should be replaced and what should stay for the optimal solution. In this application, the web unwinding system feeding material to two DC drive-controlled dancers controlling the web tension before the laminating process was maintaining proper tension and providing reliable web transport. EDC determined that section should be left alone.

In order to address downtime and restore the envelope converting machine’s typical production rates, EDC recommended retrofitting the envelope converting equipment with a state-of-the-art PLC-based motion control system with new motors and drives. In addition, EDC recommended replacing the operator’s cumbersome variety of push buttons, knobs, dials and meter controls with a new simplified user-friendly touch screen HMI. Some improved mechanical modifications to the clamp section and the implementation of a heater lane robotic set-up helped to add to product quality and increase OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness).

The new components included:

  • Siemens S7-1500 PLC
  • Siemens 1FT7 motors for high-performance motion control applications with integrated DC brakes
  • Siemens S120 drive for the three main motion axes
  • AMCI Stepper Drive
  • 15” Siemens Comfort Panel for the HMI

EDC retrofitted three legacy Indramat TDM servo drive motors with three new state-of-the-art Siemens 1FT7 servo motors with integrated DC brakes, and integrated DRIVE-CLiQ with a single-turn absolute position encoder. The new motors have an integrated DC brake that gets powered on the same cable that powers the motor.  The DRIVE-CLiQ system interface is an innovative, high-performance interface that supports simple data communication among the converter components.  It speeds installation and commissioning while virtually eliminating wiring errors.

The servo drives need to perform a very precise coordinated motion for a quality cut. The goal was to achieve 120 cycles per minute for a 4.5” envelope. The pull roll needed to feed 4.5 inches, cut and seal, and repeat the process 120 times per minute with a 1/16th inch tolerance.   The first drive controlled the pull roll (index roll) of the material – moving it forward the appropriate length.  The second drive controlled a guillotine blade, and the third drive controlled the clamp. Programming the axes needed to be precise as there is potential for the two axes to collide – they need precise motion to go down and up in unison so that the clamp is holding the paper down for a stable, clean cut.

To simplify the equipment’s operator control, EDC moved a lot of the manual dials and push buttons into a user-friendly Siemens HMI touch screen monitor. For example, the old Eurotherm temperature control units with dial heating control for the side sealing bars was moved to the PLC using Watlow SSR (solid state relay) outputs for easier operator temperature control through the Siemens HMI touch screen.

Working with ADM to determine how best to streamline operator control, EDC left some of the basic start-stop selector switches, e-stop, and the e-stop reset as physical buttons. All other modes were centralized and integrated into the new HMI touch screen. Enhancements to the system were also added including recipe control and the ability to create a production report with screenshots of different production parameters and the current date easily downloaded through a USB port.

To further enhance usability, EDC worked with ADM’s staff, to make everything clear and concise for the operator to enable and disable different features of the machine as it’s running. This included registration control, table speed and other auxiliary devices operators can enable/disable and control. Verbiage for control was also adjusted to provide a clear, simple interface to the operator.

RESULTS

The control system retrofit added years of new life to the envelope converting equipment achieving production output goals while meeting ADM’s strict quality control standards. The benefits of this upgrade included:

  • Improved reliability
  • Reduced maintenance cost
  • Expanded capabilities
  • Comprehensive, efficient code for motion control
  • Recipe-based seal parameter helps machine operator control complex parameters
  • Total management of real-time quality-related data for accurate adjustments
  • More complete operator control of weld/seal quality and consistency
  • High throughput (120 cycles/minute for 4.5” envelope with a 1/16th inch tolerance)
  • Fast switchover between jobs
  • Substantial reduction in rejected seals and material waste
  • Saved space in control cabinet with use of newer technology
  • Consolidated knobs, dials and meters into a user-friendly color touch screen

 

ADM’s Plant Manager Gene Potts has been with the company for 29 years. Gene spoke about ADM’s long relationship with EDC. “I have been working with Chuck Dillard (VP of Engineering) from Electronic Drives and Controls for around 24 years now. He has been a reliable partner with great integrity and that means a lot to us. In addition, it is clear that EDC invests in their people – they are highly trained and professional. They understand our equipment and processes. When we need help with our equipment, they fully analyze the problem and we can trust they will recommend the best and most cost-effective solution. When we do encounter an urgent problem beyond our staff’s ability to resolve, EDC response time is swift to get us back up and running.”

Controls upgrade boosts machine productivity 40%

In the metals industry, converting lines change the size and shape of metal alloys strips, including copper. As the product moves through machines, speed must be carefully controlled. Depending on the process, product velocity on one end of the roll of metal can vary considerably from the other end.

One recent machine retrofit of machine and motion controls increased productivity 40% since project completion, according to the plant maintenance manager, with an increase in quality and less scrap and a return on investment in six months.

Challenge: Repairs, speed

An aging metal converting line was experiencing an unacceptable amount of downtime. An existing 20-year-old control system was obsolete and procuring replacement parts was becoming very difficult. The customer needed better reliability, less scrap metal waste, and higher productivity from the traverse winding equipment. The line’s traverse winding and slitting application used six controllers that had been retrofitted with programmable logic controllers (PLCs) in an earlier project. Before the upgrade, workers had no way to accurately control tension and motor speeds.

Tighter motion controls

The customer had a three-week time frame to complete the winding and slitting upgrade project.

Traverse Metal Winder EDC

A controls and automation upgrade to this traverse winder included eight Siemens S120 Vector drive systems to uncoil, slit, and recoil copper. Six Siemens S120 Servo drive systems were used for traversing. Courtesy: Electronic Drives & Controls Inc.

The system integrator worked closely with the customer to coordinate the project installation, so inventory could be built up, and they could shut down the line with confidence. To take advantage of the advances in motion control technology, the new PLCs and previously retrofit sidewinders’ PLCs were reprogrammed.

Hydraulic cylinders were converted to ball screw linear actuators capable of accommodating heavy loads. Changing from a hydraulic system to electric actuators with a servo drive and motor allowed tighter control over traverse position requirements, accuracy, and repeatability beyond that of the older hydraulics, without risk of oil leaks or related regular hydraulic maintenance. The hydraulic power unit was continually on and using energy; in the new design, servos use power only when needed for traversing, for less energy consumption.

A new operator interface, a Siemens Comfort Panel was part of a traverse winder machine upgrade, along with electric ball screw linear actuators to replace hydraulics (not shown). Courtesy: Electronic Drives & Controls Inc.

A new operator interface, a Siemens Comfort Panel was part of a traverse winder machine upgrade, along with electric ball screw linear actuators to replace hydraulics (not shown). Courtesy: Electronic Drives & Controls Inc.

To house the new equipment, a custom mechanical design was created to pull out the hydraulic cylinders and put in the electric actuators. The linear actuator performed as required, providing thousands of pounds of thrust when interfaced with the EDC-installed traverse winder PLCs while maintaining the ability to produce repeatable, programmable motion.

The outdated control system was upgraded to another vendor’s PLC. For the operator interface, a touchscreen human-machine interface was installed. Variable speed drives were replaced with new drives. Eight vector drives were used to uncoil, slit, and recoil; six servo drives were used for traversing; new contactors and circuit breakers were installed for all controls.

Installation included electrical contracting to run the cables and wires, retrofitting of the hydraulic cylinders, and replacement of all panels within the enclosures.

New control cabinets for a travers winder machine upgrade included a Siemens S7-1500 PLC, new contactors, and circuit breakers. Machines were running again in two weeks. Courtesy: Electronic Drives & Controls Inc.

New control cabinets for a travers winder machine upgrade included a Siemens S7-1500 PLC, new contactors, and circuit breakers. Machines were running again in two weeks. Courtesy: Electronic Drives & Controls Inc.

Better controls: More output

The customer said results have been excellent with nearly double the output since the upgrade. Previously, higher running speeds were impossible because the operators were unable to adequately control the tension enough. With the new control system optimized, tensions were constant, making for a higher quality edge, energy savings, and reduced wear.

The average running speed prior to the upgrade was 350 feet per minute (fpm). After the upgrade, the customer regularly runs at 600 fpm, and the machine is can run up to 850 fpm on a 1-in. strip, an impressive response for a traverse winder.

Machine upgrade: Before and after

Before the upgrade, the operator had to ramp up the machine speed slowly and watch the tension carefully. The machine ran at lower speeds to avoid having the operator lose control and produce scrap instead of good product.

After the upgrade, the operator pushes a button and the machine automatically ramps up speed to 600 fpm while maintaining proper tension on all the dancers. Good slit quality is produced with consistent tension through the slitting section. When the roll needs to be changed, the machine stops precisely within a couple of wraps of the end of the reel, so waste is further reduced.

The more robust control system gives added benefits such as monitoring and diagnostics for easier troubleshooting. After six months, the metal company realized return on its investment

The project was completed in less than three weeks so the customer did not risk running out of inventory; the line restarted in two weeks, despite controls from three major vendors. The project included a documentation update.

By Chuck Dillard

Article originally appeared on Control Engineering Magazine