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Testing motors and drives together to find the optimal combination

The ABB drives test laboratory offers customers the opportunity to test our drives in combination with either their own motors or any motors supplied by ABB

Tests are arranged with loading conditions that simulate the actual application. The test equipment precisely measures motor/drive dynamic performance, loadability and efficiency – parameters that are needed to find the optimal drive system for the application. Optimizing the drive system in this way means lower costs, reduced space requirements, and energy savings.

Finding the best motor/drive match can be a challenge. The number of motors designed for use with drives has increased dramatically, with induction motors available in different efficiency classes, for example, and permanent magnet motors as well as the synchronous reluctance motors (SynRM) becoming increasingly common. Drives are offered in several product ranges, and there are versions for special purposes like pump or fan control, to mention just a few of the choices that have to be made.

Faced with so many options, customers want to know if their chosen motor/drive combination will deliver the performance they need. The easy way to get a reliable answer to this question is to test the motor and drive together at the drives test lab.

In most cases the customer will order the test work and then send the motor a few weeks in advance so we can set everything up in the lab. Testing typically takes 1-2 days and customer representatives can visit the lab to observe the tests and data collection.

Using the test results to optimize the motor/drive combination also prevents over-dimensioning, which is a common habit in drive selection. The first step in building a motor/drive package is to select the motor, and machine builders often choose a motor that is 10-15% over-dimensioned “just to be on the safe side”. This leads to over-dimensioning of the drive, which can easily be double its optimal size, and of the cabling and protection equipment like fuses.

Over-dimensioning makes the initial cost of the drive system much higher than it should be, which means the payback time for the investment is longer. The equipment takes up more space in the customer’s facility, needs more cooling and – because bigger motors use more iron, copper and other materials – its environmental footprint is larger.

Testing the motor/drive combination in the lab can avoid these problems. The test equipment is very flexible: it will measure speed, torque and efficiency at any given operation point, and customers can also specify test points where they would like us to take measurements. Our test set-up shows exactly how much torque is produced at a certain speed point, which means that exactly the right size of drive and motor are selected. In some cases there’s also been a clear cost advantage, because we’ve been able to recommend a more cost-effective drive than the customer had originally selected.

The lab also provides useful support for customers looking to add ABB as a new drives supplier. It can confirm that the motor control performance meets requirements, and match customer motors with ABB drives for a quick and easy way to verify ABB as a supplier.

The ABB drives test laboratory is ideal for high-volume customers like OEMs, system integrators and machine builders. Located next to the drives factory in Helsinki, Finland, it was officially opened in spring, 2016.

For more information, including technical details of the lab equipment and available tests, as well as a video, please visit this site.

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