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Synchronised motoring speeds up package logistics

11 February 2011

More than a thousand geared motor/inverter combinations are keeping one of France’s largest sorting and distribution centres on track to achieve a maximum package throughput time of just three minutes

Compact distributed drives from NORD Drivesystems have scored successfully in large-scale plants which require many drive units operating synchronously to achieve reliability and precision in complex conveying systems. These units can fulfil all standard control tasks in materials handling applications, particularly those commonly encountered in assembly plants, airport baggage handling systems and distribution centres. A good example can be found in France, where a recent installation is ensuring the smooth flow of packages in a strategic sorting plant.

In this application, more than 1,000 integrated geared motor/frequency inverter combinations ensure fast, reliable shipment from a package sorting facility located south of Paris and operated by a prominent French logistics service provider. In order to minimise wiring and installation time and cost, NORD implemented a distributed drive concept for the facility's conveyor system, the length of which runs to several thousands of meters.

With a capacity of 30,000 packages per hour, the facility is one of the most efficient distribution centres in Europe. Packages are transported to the correct loading ramp within a maximum three minute target, which, considering the complexity of this operation, relies heavily on precise motor control and synchronisation throughout the plant.

The belt conveyor drives combine a frequency inverter, motor and helical bevel or worm gear units. These compact, light-weight geared motors, which feature ‘UniCase’ housings, have their respective inverter drives mounted directly atop their terminal boxes. The drives used in this application provide a wide range of functions, even in their most basic versions.

This integrated design achieves excellent local electromagnetic compatibility and ultimately saves money for installers as there is reduced need for long shielded motor cables and separate cabinets that would otherwise be needed to house the drives.

The inverters installed on the NORD SK 200E motor drives have an efficiency of more than 97%; they do not require external cooling and are robustly housed to withstand the mechanical abuse of everyday industrial environments. Should conditions demand it, these units are also optionally available with IP55 and IP66 protection.

Interface modules for Profibus DP, Interbus, EtherCAT, CANopen/DeviceNet and ASi are also available, enabling users to connect their drives over communication networks and achieve closely synchronised operation in distributed drive configurations like the French sorting plant example above. NORD even has optional function modules for these drives should they need to carry out more demanding motion tasks such as ‘flying saw’, which would otherwise require the installation of a more costly servo drive.

Readers can find out more about these drive systems by clicking here

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