ABB’s new ac drive family: sophisticated, yet simple to use

New Berlin, WI—“Sophisticated technology made simple” is the calling card of ACS550 DriveIT, an all-new low-voltage ac motor drive family from ABB Inc.’s Automation Technologies, Drives and Motors. It’s a motto that users should appreciate as well.


New Berlin, WI— “Sophisticated technology made simple” is the calling card of ACS550 DriveIT, an all-new low-voltage ac motor drive family from ABB Inc. ’s Automation Technologies, Drives and Motors . It’s a motto that users should appreciate as well.

While ACS550 is a “native U.S. design created from scratch” and built using 3-D design tools, ABB pooled its worldwide expertise, resources and technology to make it happen, explains Joe Maloni, ABB’s sales and marketing VP for drives. Leading the design effort were R&D and manufacturing engineers at ABB’s facility in New Berlin.

Available now in NEMA 1 or NEMA 12 enclosures, full-featured ACS550 drives portray compact, flexible packaging throughout the wide range of 1-550 hp, with supply voltages from 208 to 480 V. An enclosure extension for drives 150 hp or larger accommodates a standard fused disconnect switch.

Hearing customers’ voices
Customer needs provided vital input to the design. As a result, these drives are “the easiest to install, start and use, bar none,” says Maloni. The ACS550 family complements and widens ABB’s substantial ac drive offerings.

At the top of users’ wish list, simple controls/set-up takes the form of an all-new control panel with the look, feel and functionality similar to a mobile phone. A built-in Help button and real-time clock assist in fault diagnostics. In case of a fault, Diagnostic Assistant suggests ways to fix the fault.

Adding to faster drive start-up and tuning is a built-in standard tool called Start-up Assistant . The software provides a step-by-step start up sequence without having to worry about access to complex parameter lists or which parameters to set, according to Mark Kenyon, product line manager. “The Assistant also knows what options are plugged in, and the parameters for these options are displayed automatically,” he says. The “assistants” work with the control panel that “speaks” in 12 languages.

The drive’s monitoring feature tracks energy consumption, running hours, or motor revolutions. It can flag limits for these parameters set by users to aid driven equipment preventive maintenance.

A control panel modeled after a cell-phone design makes ABB’s new drive family extremely intuitive and simple to set up. It features two soft keys, whose functions change according to the panel’s operating state.

Connectivity, EMI/RFI protection, other features
For connectivity to various automation systems, ACS550 drive comes with an optional digital interface card and/or fieldbus adapters that mount quickly into an internal slot. All drive programming is done through the standard control panel without special hardware or software tools. “Programming should take only minutes, max,” says Kenyon, “and can be carried out on-site during start-up,” in conjunction with Start-up Assistant.

A parameter copy feature allows copying of all drive features from one motor controller to another to simplify start up. It’s also used regularly as a back up in case of a drive failure.

Application macros let users simply select a preconfigured set of parameter values and I/O configurations. However users can tailor parameters and I/O settings to their specific application needs. ABB’s patent-pending “swinging choke” design dramatically cuts harmonics, reportedly giving ACS550 drives the industry’s lowest input current THD (Total Harmonic Distortion). Harmonics at full and partial loads are reduced by up to 25% compared to normal choke designs. This satisfies virtually all harmonic mitigation requirements for industrial applications, according to ABB.

ACS550 drive’s compact sensorless vector-control design delivers high power density. Two internal slots provide for options such as encoder feedback (for more precise application requirements), 115/230V digital interface card, I/O expansion, or fieldbus adapters.

The design of ACS550 “combines simplicity, convenience, fieldbus connectivity, harmonic mitigation and programmability to a degree we’ve not seen in drives before,” concludes Maloni. “The goal is to make drives simple—provide a common technology to drive motors across a wide range of applications, small to large.”

Control Engineering Daily News Desk
Frank J. Bartos, executive editor

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