The auxiliary contacts in a motor starter are commonly used to indicate when the motor is running. However, auxiliary contacts only indicate the position of the contactor, not the actual load status. If a downstream disconnect is open (for example, for maintenance) or the contact fails (either sticks or dirt build-up) there can be serious consequences.
At a large fish farm, failed aerator pumps resulted in massive stock losses. Because the auxiliary contacts remained closed when the pump failed, the alarm was never activated, the back-up pumps were not switched on and the fish suffocated due to lack of oxygen. Now NK Technologies’ Current Operated Switches have been installed to provide an alarm signal and a signal to automatically switch over to the back-up aerator pumps.
Normal linear AC induction motors have a current characteristic that increases with load. Thus a measurement of current is proportional to the motor load. NK Technologies’ True RMS Current Transducers are designed to work in conjunction with variable frequency drives (VFD) and measure the current in the leg of the motor.
At an engine block manufacturing facility NK Technologies’ Current Transducers provide the input to a PLC used to position the rotating wire brushes in order to clean away burrs and debris after machining. As the current, and thus the load, changes so the brushes are positioned for optimal clean-up. Similarly Power Transducers are used to control the position of wheel wash brushes in a carwash. Power measurement provides a more linear relationship for motors and other loads with non-linear current characteristics. Current Operated Switches are used to co-ordinate operations between conveyor, washing and drying systems.
When conveyors jam and the drive motor continues to run, expensive mechanical damage to the drive components often occurs. By installing an NK Technologies’ Current Operated Switch an overload condition, detected by higher than normal running amps, can be used to switch off power to the motor before mechanical damage results. The switch setting can be adjusted so it is not affected by normal changes in conveyor load. Current operated switches are the modern day equivalent of less reliable electromechanical jam relays that have been in use for many decades.
In situations where there may be large variations in load an NK Technologies’ Current Transducer may be used to feed motor amps to the conveyor control system, commonly a PLC. The PLC may be programmed to accommodate different setpoints for different mechanical loads so that jam protection is provided from light to heavy loads. In situations where the conveyor is not able to accept analog signals NK Technologies has developed a patented transducer with a frequency output suitable for the Digital Inputs of most PLCs.
Good engineering practice suggests that every control output should have a corresponding status input for verification. On fans and pumps a current operated switch can be snapped over one motor leg and the output fed to the automation system. NK Technologies’ self-powered Current Operated Switches will close when the motor turns on and open when the motor is off.
By adjusting the setpoint pump coupling or fan belt failure can be detected. This reliable solid-state solution eliminates the need for unreliable pressure current switches and their costly installation.