These advanced components connect with a networked automation system and provide more control and safety for protecting pump systems.
by Glynn Newby

Modern motor control technologies have surfaced that address evolving smart pumping system requirements. They protect pumping systems by simultaneously providing a new level of diagnostics, energy awareness and control, as well as by enhancing operator safety.

Motor Management RelayImage 1. A motor management relay can provide monitoring accuracy and protection for the entire power system from the incoming power source feeding the motor all the way to the individual pump or load. (Images courtesy of Eaton)

System management has moved away from the equipment itself and into the control room. The components in motor control centers (MCC) offer advanced protection, efficiency and information, so that operators can provide more effective predictive maintenance.

Among the variety of solutions essential to the distribution of power, low-voltage MCCs are unique because they can be used for power distribution, as well as for the control and protection of motors. MCCs are traditionally the most effective way to group motor control, associated control, distribution and industrial communications equipment.

A typical MCC is designed to meet National Electrical Code (NEC) and Underwriters Laboratories (UL) standards for safety. They are designed to be used in a range of environments—from standard commercial to harsh and hazardous—and are built to withstand a variety of environmental conditions covered by National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) 1, 2, 12 and 3R ratings.

MCCs range in complexity of application from basic mechanical motor control to advanced communicating solid-state motor control.

These advanced components can communicate to the rest of a networked automation system and provide more control and safety for protecting pump systems.

Also, because MCCs can remain in service for decades, there has been increased demand in recent years for solutions that help customers update and replace legacy componentry to modern communicating motor controls components.

Motor Management Relays

Many new options are available when it comes to protecting pumps from various issues associated with motor overloads.

Motor management relays are one example of an emerging technology that enables improved diagnostics and intelligence of pumping systems without requiring a complete overhaul of the distribution and control system.

These motor management relays increase energy awareness, improve diagnostic capability and enhance uptime through excellent monitoring and protection.

These devices communicate on all standard industrial protocols and provide performance data on entire pumping systems.

Unlike legacy overload relays, motor management relays contain features such as real-time clocks, non-volatile memory backup, motor temperature protection, efficiency monitoring, fault queues, trip snapshots and optional algorithms that provide automatic restart after an outage.

These relays are also capable of remote configuration and monitoring, which contribute to operator safety.

Another example of product evolution in the smart pumping space is in drives technologies. Drives can support communications and save energy costs in the process. The general-purpose drive incorporates an energy-control
algorithm, extensive onboard industrial communication protocols and built-in harmonic reduction to help reduce the cost of using a drive for pump control.

Motor Control CenterImage 2. This motor control center design combines arc-containment and arc-preventative technologies to establish new levels of protection.

The modular design, using the latest generation of semiconductor technology, can provide greater reliability and reduce maintenance time and costs. With embedded communications capabilities and an enhanced graphical display, drives can provide detailed system data to simplify installation, commissioning and maintenance.

Some software tools make it easier to connect low-voltage motor control solutions, including drives, directly with the automation system.

Algorithms that enable active energy control can dynamically adjust the voltage and help optimize motor performance while minimizing power usage. Compared to standard drives’ out-of-the-box linear volts per hertz (V/Hz) curve performance, active energy control has been shown to yield a 2 to 10 percent cost savings—and that is for applications already using adjustable frequency drives.

Energy savings calculators are available to provide energy cost savings metrics against a standard across-the-line motor starter. This feature enables users to see cost savings in real time.

The data can be customized to reflect local energy costs, currency and the format that energy savings are displayed. The data can be accessed daily, cumulatively and over time.

Enhancing Safety

Two of the most common requests in MCC technology are for product longevity and safety during maintenance. MCCs require regular maintenance and have higher instances of user interaction than most other electrical equipment. When there is an issue and personnel must perform maintenance, some MCC product features can help protect workers.

Arc flash safety is one of many requirements that continues to evolve in power distribution and controls. For example, arc-resistant designs engineered to contain arc blast energy are no longer limited to switchgear. MCCs are available with a Type 2 accessibility rating, which means that arc-resistant designs are present on the front, back and sides of the assembly. This rating translates to enhanced safety around the entire perimeter of the MCC if an arc flash event occurs.

Arc flash safety solutions found in today’s MCCs are specifically designed to help reduce personnel risk during maintenance. Industrial circuit breakers address this in MCCs through technologies that reduce the energy available during an arc flash event. Safety remote racking mechanisms can be found within modern MCCs, providing bus isolation, stab indication and lockout features that proactively prevent the initiation of an arc flash event during maintenance operations.

Global manufacturers have the expertise to design and build components that assimilate well into smart, communicating pumping systems. Because of networked devices such as drives and motor management relays, end users can be sure that they have the information they need to run a safe and energy-efficient remote pumping installation. In the case that maintenance is required, they can be sure that their personnel will be safe as they interface with modern MCCs.

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