Jim Mimlitz

Jim Mimlitz, NRI

I am very appreciative of all the positive feedback that I’ve received over the past few days as a result of this 3-part series of articles: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.  I am glad that I was able to convey how the latest VFD technology — when leveraged to its full capability and coupled tightly with our new VFD & Energy Analytics Telemetry Software — is capable of providing so much more value than ever before realized. Many points were covered, and hopefully there was something of interest for everyone.

PowerFlex400_Closeup_001s

The main inquiry that I’ve received is with regard to the Make/Model of VFD’s that are compatible with the new Telemetry Analytics Software Package. As mentioned in Part 2, the new Analytics Software was designed to leverage the rich capability incorporated in the Allen Bradley PowerFlex Drive Family.  However, many clients already have VFD’s of various makes and models installed, including those manufactured by ABB, Eaton, GE/Fuji, and Toshiba.  The question is, “Will my existing VFD’s need to be replaced in order to benefit from this new technology?”

The short answer is — probably not — VFD replacement will not necessarily be required — but there are a few caveats.  The implementation of VFD & Energy Analytics requires two-way communications with the VFD through a network port, and each manufacturer handles this differently. Also, some drives provide only a subset of the data that is available from the PowerFlex model.

We have developed a plan, which outlines full support for legacy VFD equipment and targeted support for future VFD equipment.

Based on an assessment of installation history, and as illustrated in the chart below, there are five VFD makes that are installed across our client base.  Of those five, we have completed VFD & Energy Analytics software development for three (Allen Bradley, Eaton, Toshiba); and we are already contracted by clients to complete the remaining two (ABB, GE/Fuji):

Bi-Directional Networking Capability
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VFD & Energy Analytics Software Support Status
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Allen Bradley

PowerFlex400_Family_001

Modbus/RTU

(Industry Standard)

RS-485

Completed:

Available For All Installations.

ABB

  ABB_Drives_001

Modbus/RTU

(Industry Standard)

RS-485

Under Development:

Available Only For Pre-2015 Installations.

Eaton

Eaton_PowerXL_001

Modbus/RTU

(Industry Standard)

RS-485

Completed:

Available Only For Pre-2015 Installations.

GE/Fuji

GE_Fuji_VFD_001

Modbus/RTU

(Industry Standard)

RS-485

Under Development:

Available Only For Pre-2015 Installations.

Toshiba

Toshiba_VFD_001

Toshiba Inverter Protocol

(Proprietary)

RS-485

Completed:

Available Only For Pre-2015 Installations When Outside Warranty Period.

Important Note: Local Toshiba Distributor Is Not Allowing Their Customers To Use Toshiba’s Proprietary Inverter Protocol On New Installations. We Will Be Complying. Please Consider This When Choosing A New Drive.

Compatibility/Support Synopsis:

If you are an existing NRI client and already have drives that were installed prior to 01 Jan 2015, we are extending the offer to connect them to our VFD & Energy Analytics Telemetry Software, to the extent supported by the particular drives’ built-in networking capability.

As illustrated in the above table — for years 2015 and beyond — we plan to focus our VFD & Energy Analytics Software development and integration upon PowerFlex drives and those from other manufacturers that were installed only before 01 Jan 2015.  We strive to be flexible, so there may be exceptions, but these are the general principles that we will be following in order to avoid a never-ending Research & Development effort.

Questions? Please don’t hesitate to reach out via phone or email!

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Jim Mimlitz

About Jim Mimlitz

Licensed Professional Electrical Engineer @ Navionics Research. Specialties: Radio-Telemetry / Controls / SCADA System Integration for Water Utilities, Flow Metering, Variable Frequency Drives, Motorized Valves, Electronic Circuit Design, Software Development.

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