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Vacon comes to the aid of its 'fans'

29 December 2015

For a number of years, fan systems specialist WITT Group has been using Vacon drives, supplied by York based Vacon distributor, Mutex UK. So when WITT engineers wanted to build a test rig, it called on Mutex for advice on selecting the best VSD for the application.

WITT senior engineer, Richard Midgley alongside the test rig control panel
WITT senior engineer, Richard Midgley alongside the test rig control panel

Based in Halifax, the WITT Group is a global player in the design, manufacture, project management, servicing and commissioning of centrifugal, axial, smoke extraction and tunnel fans, as well as associated smoke control and ventilation systems. 

The fan systems offered by WITT are among the most competitive on the market. The company offers over 6,500 different types and configurations, allowing the most economical arrangements to be selected for a wide range of applications, including nuclear, oil rig and industrial ventilation, machine cooling and gas dispersal. Mutex UK's managing director, Barry Higginbottom takes up the story:

“For the fan test rig, WITT chose a drive manufactured by Vacon because of the local support and competitive pricing they are able to provide. They were so impressed with the first few drives they had previously received from us, that we soon had to ship a total of five units for the test application.”

Four of the drives were Vacon 100 FLOW 400V, rated 160kW, 75kW, 30kW and 5.5kW. An additional Vacon 20 208-240V, rated at 2.2kW was also used. 

Specifically optimised for efficient flow control with pumps and fans, ac variable speed drives in the new Vacon 100 FLOW range offer easy set up with dedicated application menus for water and other pump and fan segment applications; integrated two-zone PID control, and multi-motor control functionality is provided as standard in this range, providing both economy and versatility. 

Available with power ratings from 0.55kW to 160kW, Vacon 100 FLOW drives feature a start-up wizard and quick setup mode, which make it easy for users to select relevant operating parameters and monitoring values, while application menus guide the user through a quick and easy commissioning process.

To facilitate the integration of these drives with test rig systems, they feature an integral Ethernet and RS485 ports. The Ethernet port also allows easy network access for commissioning and maintenance, using the Vacon Live software package.

The other drive used by WITT - the Vacon 20 - is a robust, compact unit, offering a wide power range of up to 18.5kW plus built-in PLC functionality. The Vacon 20 is easily adapted for different applications, and a quick and easy installation process offers users a true plug-and-play capability. These drives also offer fieldbus support, covering leading protocols such as CANOpen, DeviceNet and Profibus.

The test rig, which incorporated all five drives, was designed and commissioned by WITT senior engineer, Richard Midgley.

“We needed multi-functional speed regulation and, in addition, safety and reliability were key concerns," he recalls. "The Vacon drives satisfy all these requirements, and the new rig that incorporates them greatly simplifies our testing as we can now test all types of fan from a single panel. Furthermore, the drives provide enhanced safety by doing a test on the fan motor to see if it is connected properly and, if it isn’t, it shuts it down instantly.”

According to Midgley, Modbus provided a convenient and effective way of communicating with the drives. A further benefit is that the drive firmware can be programmed to conduct a test to make sure the correct drive is actually connected to the test rig.

“The only issue we’ve had were some difficulties programming the drive confirmation test, but Vacon and Mutex responded within 24 hours, sorting everything out for us,” Midgley adds. “The entire project, which only took four months to complete, was a resounding success – so we can safely say that the fans we build are big fans of Vacon drives!” 

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