“Complex Can Be So Simple”


The A&D Vorsprung Automation trade journal for the automation sector reports on YASKAWA’s new inverter drives. With just one control mode for different motor types, the new inverter drive series simplifies both selection and start-up. (24/2/2016, Text: Simone Käfer, A&D)

You used to only be able to make calls on a phone. Now, it’s a smartphone you watch TV on or use to stick to your diet. The developments in automation components may not be that drastic, but there are certainly a wide variety of them. At the same time, the number of technical specialists is shrinking. One reason is that components are advancing into new areas and applications, and there are no experts for these devices.

Tobias Unger, General Manager Drives & Motion at YASKAWA, believes that the distance between highly qualified and low-skilled workers is growing constantly, while the number of employees with concrete user knowledge is decreasing. “Self-explanatory operation, implementation and parameter settings are important aspects for responding to this development – for our inverter drives, too”, Unger continues. This trend was an important factor in the development of the GA700 inverter drive.

Simple operation was a major point of focus: “You can get to your application very quickly without special knowledge of inverter or drive technology and with very little prior knowledge”, Unger promises. For example, guided start-up, a setup wizard, a data login, a real-time clock and a Bluetooth interface help with the first steps. The mechanical components have also been greatly simplified and improved, for example with plug-in solutions without additional mechanical kits. These changes are based on customer feedback.

A compact build

At the same time, the inverter is compatible with the previous series. This makes it easier for users, who don’t have to make any changes to their control panels. “Up to 18.5 kW, the footprint stayed the same, and above 18.5 kW, we were able to make the devices up to 45 percent smaller, even though we added more components. In this process, we also changed the form a little so multiple inverters can be positioned right next to each other”, Unger explains, adding that this is better for cable routing and also improves installation time. If the device is used incorrectly or there are problems with the application, the internal diagnostics system guides the user to the problem.

If errors occur during start-up of the devices, the inverter drive displays the error in the wizard and tells the user how to resolve it. “Only to the extent that the error can be identified, of course”, Unger explains. “A speed setpoint that’s too low is a logical error in the application; naturally, the device can’t identify that”. If errors occur during operation, they are also displayed with appropriate information thanks to the inverter’s improved internal diagnostics.

Tuning is out

Motor identification is also getting easier. Auto-Tuning used to be the height of simplicity, but the GA700 doesn’t even need that anymore. During Auto-Tuning of the motor, the inverter measures the drive properties of the motor connected and sets its own control parameters, usually during a test run. “With the new inverter generation, all you have to do is enter the few pieces of information from the motor’s nameplate.

The GA700 determines everything needed for control in the background. You don’t even notice it”, Unger describes the process. For this purpose, a database with the key figures of common motors is stored in the inverter. Whether induction, permanent magnet or synchronous reluctance motor – they can all be operated with the new inverter.

Interactive control

YASKAWA modernised the parameter management system and added support by apps and cloud services. However, you can’t access the cloud right on the device, Unger explains; that’s a little further down the road: naturally, it would be possible, but the security measures in most companies aren’t far enough along yet. That’s why the cloud services are limited to reading out current manuals, application notes or information about special additional software. Each device has its own QR code for this purpose. This way, users can set parameters or control the inverters using smartphones or tablets. Once the code has been read in, users can operate the inverter even from the opposite end of the machine so they can keep an eye on the production process.

Tobias Unger, General Manager Drives & Motion, explains how the new GA700 does exactly that in an interview by A&D. (03/2016, issue 3)

(The original German article was translated into English by "Text&Form")