Condition monitoring using the drive as a sensor

Variable speed drives have been used for over half a century, with the main advantage being the reduction of electrical energy use. With the advance of Industry 4.0, the role of the drive moves from that of a pure power processor to that of an intelligent element of the automation system. The ability of the drive to act as a smart sensor makes it a natural choice when implementing condition monitoring. This article further discusses how this can be used in water and wastewater applications.

Industry 4.0 refers to the transition from the automation pyramid to network systems.

New drive capabilities for water and wastewater applications
Variable speed drives with power electronics converters have been used for more than half a century, and today, more than 20% of electric motors are driven by variable speed drives. The main reason for using drives is the reduction of energy use. However, there are also other reasons for employing drives in water and wastewater applications, such as process control, avoiding water hammers or optimised well exploitation.

Since the introduction of microprocessors to control the drives, additional functionality has been added to the original function – which is that of a powerful processor. For example, drives can perform pump de-ragging in wastewater applications, they can control several pumps in a cascade system in water pumping applications or can bypass certain frequencies to avoid resonances.

The advance of Industry 4.0 has given an additional boost to these additional features. As Industry 4.0 deals with information and networking, Danfoss has started using the drives as smart and networked sensors.

Industry 4.0 in motor and drive systems
Industry 4.0 is a generic term, suggesting a fourth Industrial Revolution that can be characterised by networking. Although the term is somewhat vague, a possible definition could be “Industry 4.0 describes the intelligent networking of people, things and systems by utilising all the possibilities of digitalisation across the entire value chain”.

The impact of this trend on motor systems is a migration from what is known as the “automation pyramid” to networked systems. This means that the various elements of the system, such as motors, drives, sensors and controls, get interconnected and also connected to the cloud – where data is stored, processed, analysed and decisions are made.

The full article is available on the latest edition of Water & Wastewater Asia Mar/Apr 2022 issue. To continue reading, click here.