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The power of adaptive programming

01 June 2018

Andy Preston, UK Drives Product Manager, ABB Limited, focuses on adaptive programming: a little known feature of a variable speed drive but one that offers a “get out of jail free card” when installations don’t quite go to plan.

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Adaptive programming is used to customise the operation of a variable speed drive (VSD) in cases where the drive parameter settings are not sufficient. The programme is built with standard function blocks included in the VSD firmware. A predefined list of inputs is available for getting information from the drive parameters to use in the adaptive programme. Similarly, a predefined list of outputs is available that defines where it is possible to write from the adaptive programme.

Adaptive programming does not have anything to do with controlling the motor, but can be used to take the place of relays, timers, thermostats and external devices normally installed around a VSD in a control panel. This increases drive integration and saves the end-user real money. It can affect the price of a project being bid, reducing the cost of the items in your panels. 

Adaptive programming, when used together with the drive’s many unused digital I/O, replaces the need for the mini PLC – and it’s free! It avoids the need to fit remote I/O into cabinets. Adaptive programming provides the flexibility needed for panel builders, OEMs or end-users to adapt the VSD by programming it to meet particular situations. For in-stance, if you do not want a drive to start until the valve is open, traditionally relays are used to inhibit the motor start. Now by creating a specific adaptive programme, the decision on when to open the valve and start the motor is made within the drive, saving the relay, the wiring cost, the drawing room time and the wireman time and materials.

This is the beauty of adaptive programming. It is a life saver, a get out of jail free card, for many installations across the country. It can help resolve technical challenges retrospectively. For instance, a UK water utility tried an emergency stop shut down on a new set of pumps, but the harshness of the stop caused the building to vibrate. Using adaptive programming, the drive was coded to detect stop situations and come to rest more steadily, as well as recovering from a black start. Without adaptive programming the cabinets would have needed to be re-wired and the project delays would have been hugely expensive.

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