Industrial Internet of Things IIoT and VFDs.
Our primary business is variable frequency drives (VFD) and our focus is high horsepower and medium voltage VFDs. We’ve seen incredible technical innovation in the last decade and often wonder what the future holds.
Vector drive technology, made possible by very smart people using smarter and smarter microprocessors, and advances in power semiconductors, had a huge impact on the market. So what’s next?
Almost everyone expects smarter equipment, and that always means more connected equipment. Hence the Industrial Internet of Things or IIoT. The McKinsey report “The Internet of Things: Mapping the value beyond the hype” says a typical oil platform might use 30,000 sensors. Those sensors are monitoring dozens of critical systems, including quantities of VFDs.
Those systems are interdependent, and a change in the status of one necessarily precipitates an adjustment in the other. Often oil production platforms and fields find it necessary to communicate data with one another in real time, and the IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) allows it.
Since our focus at EMA is medium voltage drives (VFD) we’re already using remote sensing technology to both monitor performance and alarm failures. In addition, we’ve been able to analyze data trends to predict component failures in advance, such as electrolytic capacitors.
In our specific case, we’ve found the PQube3 to be an invaluable tool.
In addition to the PQube3’s ability to be utilized as a preventive maintenance tool (within IIoT), the PQube3 also serves as a power quality meter. It can measure voltage and current harmonics in water and waste water plants, oil production platforms, pipelines, and manufacturing facilities. The PQube3 is able to measure voltage sags and swells, helping plant personnel determine whether VFD input power losses are due to the utility company or internal issues.
Unlike most power quality meters, no special software is required to connect to the PQube3. It can be accessed and programmed through any web browser. With access to Wi-Fi or the customer’s network, we can assign a static IP address to the PQube3 and generate real time automatic email failure notifications for key indicators on the VFD. These failure notifications can be sent to the customer’s smartphone, tablet or laptop. This feature has allowed EMA to remotely troubleshoot minor VFD failures and reduce unnecessary down-time as well as save on service call fees for a minor failure.
As part of the preventive maintenance tool, we also have the capability to generate weekly and monthly reports that are sent automatically to the customer on the health of the VFDs. With the customer’s permission, these reports can also be sent directly to EMA where our on-call service engineer will evaluate any notifications and respond accordingly to resolve VFD related failures and assist in keeping the equipment operating.
This, we think, is a small snapshot of where we see the future of the variable frequency drive market going. Will drives incorporate these features internally? At some point, probably so, but at the moment they do not; especially in medium voltage applications. The IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) is already here, and growing. Your plant or facility will almost certainly become part of it.
Want to discuss any of this? Use any of the contact methods on our site OR call 770-448-4644. We’d be happy to talk with you, and even schedule a demo if appropriate.
EMA sells and services medium voltage VFDs, soft starters, and peripherals.
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