how can you extend the life of your variable speed drive

Extending the life of your variable speed drive

Exploring the topic of whether a variable speed drive (VSD) can ever really be 'fit and forget', Carl Turbitt, ABB's UK HVAC sector manager advises, while VSDs are known for being incredibly efficient devices, they do still need to be maintained.

Carl explains, "like any good motor vehicle or like the human body, if you don't look after it and regularly maintain it, failure, in some form, is inevitable."

While most maintenance tasks are best left to a qualified engineer, there are still preventative maintenance duties that can be performed by in-house teams.

Let's take a look at the three basic steps you should be taking to keep your VSD healthy and prolong its useful life:

1.    Keep it clean
2.    Keep it dry
3.    Keep connections tight

1. Keep it clean

Carl highlights that "dust on VSD hardware can lead to poor airflow, which is detrimental to its performance. Dust also carries moisture which can damage circuit boards and cause failures", so it's important to keep your drive clean and dust-free.

How? Use a vacuum cleaner with antistatic hose and nozzle to clear the heat sinks and circulating fans.

Why antistatic? Because an ordinary vacuum cleaner can create static discharges which can damage circuit boards.

Blow compressed air from bottom to top and simultaneously use a vacuum cleaner at the air outlet to trap dust. The compressed air must be a non-static generating spray or a reverse operated electrostatic discharge (ESD) vacuum, as ordinary compressed air contains oil and water, which are not substances you want in your drive.

2. Keep it dry

Moisture on a circuit board will short circuit the boards causing all sorts of problems. And eventually, it causes corrosion, which can lead to drive failure at any time.

Even a drive situated in a dry area can attract moisture from unexpected sources. It only takes the ingress of one drop to start doing damage. So as Carl advises, "your drive needs to be properly enclosed and situated, with no way for moisture to get in."

Yes, some drives are specified to withstand water exposure, but as a rule, drives and water do not mix, so keep them apart if possible.

3. Keep connections tight

As long as the drive is powered down and disconnected, you can check that external connections are tight.

As basic as this sounds, tightening connections can help avoid arcing, which can cause damage to the drive terminals, overvoltage faults, clearing of input fuses, or damage to protective components.

Re-torquing screws is not a good idea, and further tightening an already tight connection can cause further damage.

Shockingly, Carl also reveals that "an estimated 80% of drive failures occur due to a poor maintenance regime."

In part, that could be down to many companies not having the resource or expertise to manage more complex VSD maintenance effectively in-house.

If so, there are other options you can consider to minimise the likelihood of a drive failure.

The most common solution is a service contract with an external provider, where a qualified engineer carries out regular preventative maintenance visits.

Consider a service contract

Carl clarifies that "while VSDs have very few parts that need maintenance, components eventually wear out and so need to be regularly checked, repaired and/or replaced."

Ensuring you're on top of what's likely to go and when means you can pre-empt and avoid failures, which could potentially save you thousands of pounds in lost production in the future.

As an ABB Value Provider for drives in the North East and Scotland, our service engineers are ABB trained and have the experience and expertise to extend the life of your VSDs.

A DriveCare contract with EDC is designed to minimise and prevent downtime.

At scheduled preventative maintenance intervals, your drive(s) will be serviced, and consumables replaced, allowing for optimal performance and maximum energy savings.

But don't just take our word for it. One of our utility customers had this to say:

"EDC provides an excellent service. Their engineers are professional and knowledgeable in their approach. Breakdowns are rare due to the DriveCare maintenance undertaken, but when they do occur, there's always a speedy response and resolution. I would highly recommend EDC's services."

> Extend the life of your VSDs with a DriveCare contract