Gas Turbine Maintenance Strategies To Consider

No matter what kind of gas turbine you use in your facility, there are a few core maintenance strategies that you should consider. Read on to learn more.

Many gas turbines are constantly at work in different facilities, but the maintenance strategies for keeping them up and running are largely the same. We’ve made a list of a few gas turbine maintenance strategies to consider to help your facility thrive.

Understand Your Assets

This might be an obvious suggestion, but make sure you know what you’re working with! Having a clear understanding of your current assets and procedures is essential to setting up a viable strategy. If you haven’t put pen to paper yet for your strategy, make that a priority. You can work out the gaps and kinks after writing everything down.

Prioritize Proactivity

Proactive maintenance is everything in an industrial environment. For gas turbines, you can avoid unnecessary downtime by fixing problems before they arise through condition-based maintenance. You’ll see many touting the benefits of time-based maintenance, but condition-based maintenance is more effective.

Time-based maintenance may cause you to replace components before they’ve worn down, meaning you’re wasting hours of use. When you change out parts based on condition, you know you’re getting the most out of them before replacements.

Determine Your Optimum Maintenance Process

Just as optimum organizational processes exist, optimum maintenance processes also exist. Collect data on your gas turbine in order to determine how to optimize these processes, like condition-based maintenance. You won’t know exactly the right time to replace a component until you can see your turbine’s performance data, with components showing varying degrees of wear.

Once you know the prime time for replacements, you can purchase components like the Mark IV DS3800 gas turbine control system to avoid extended downtime.

Now that you know these gas turbine maintenance strategies to consider, implement them at your organization. You’ll be surprised how much something like preventative maintenance can do for productivity in your facility!

The Difference Between DC & AC Drives in Automation

You can’t have success in the automation industry without DC or AC drives. Learn more about each type of drive and what makes them different in this guide.

Electrical motors are essential in automation, but they aren’t nearly as useful without a drive to regulate speed. Alternating current and direct current drives are crucial to the performance of motion control systems, but each tackles its job in a different way. Keep reading to discover the difference between DC and AC drives in automation and learn which is better for you.

Electrical Drives

AC and DC drives are both types of electrical drives—an electronic device that controls the speed of an electric motor. You would be hard-pressed to find an industrial facility without dozens of electrical drives employed across devices, as these are a critical component in every facility.

What Is an AC Drive?

AC drives are devices that control the speed of an AC motor—these motors can be used in a variety of applications, from controlling fans to operating complicated machinery.

To understand what AC drives do, it’s important to first have an understanding of AC motors. Alternating current motors typically have two or three phases that determine the number of electromagnetic coils inside.

In a two-phase motor, you’ll see two pairs of electromagnetic coils across from each other that form a plus shape. In the center of these coils (which are known as stators), there is a magnet, called a rotor. The stators function 90 degrees out of phase, and this discrepancy causes the magnet to rotate. A three-phase motor functions in much the same way but features three pairs of stators that are 120 degrees out of phase.

An AC drive system has three important parts: an operator control, a drive controller, and an AC motor. The operator control is the method for starting and stopping the motor, as well as changing the operating speed.

The drive controller works by changing a constant AC voltage and frequency into variable voltage and frequency.

Types of AC Controllers

Not all AC controllers are created equal. Let’s look at a few common types of AC controllers you’re likely to run into.

Pulse-Width Modulated

Pulse-width modulated AC controllers are among the most common in general-purpose drives. PWM controllers use a full-wave rectifier to convert the AC power source into a fixed DC voltage. A filter network then smooths the DC voltage and sends it through a pulse-width modulated inverter by use of high-power transistors.

This voltage is not truly sinusoidal but is instead a pulsed approximation—this is where the device gets its name. The waveform is pulse-width modulated, although it closely follows the regular shape of a sine wave.

Load Commutated Inverter

A load commutated inverter (LCI) is a system containing both an input and output thyristor bridge. The input bridge supplies a DC current into an inductor, while the output bridge passes the DC current to the generator’s stator, causing rotation.

What Is a DC Drive?

DC drives come with the same main parts as an AC drive; the operator control and drive controller are, in theory, the same components. However, a DC drive has a DC motor rather than an AC motor. As with an AC drive, the operator controller dictates the speed of the motor using a device like a dial.

The drive controller regulates the input using a phase control device or pulse-width modulator.

Types of DC Drives

Just as there are multiple types of AC controllers, there are several types of DC drives.

Nonregenerative

Most DC drives are nonregenerative, meaning they control torque and speed in a single direction. When you add another electromechanical armature, you can reverse polarity and change the direction of rotation.

Regenerative

Regenerative drives can control motor speed, direction of rotation, and torque. When the motor is braking, a regenerative drive can convert mechanical energy into electrical energy and return it to the AC power source. These are less common than nonregenerative drives but have significant power-saving advantages.

Key Differences

Now that you know a bit more about how AC and DC drives work, let’s explore the key differences between the two.

Operation

As we explored earlier, the main difference between these drives is the way they operate. While AC drives convert AC voltage into DC with a rectifier circuit, DC drives convert the AC input into DC at varying voltages. While the processes are different, the result is the same: motor speed control.

Self-Starting

A major difference between the two drives is that DC drives are self-starting while AC drives are not. This is a benefit that pushes DC over the edge for many people—a quick start is always a positive!

Speed Limitations

The commutator in DC drives limits the maximum speed, while AC drives do not share this limitation. Two-pole AC drives can reach 3,600 rpm at 60 Hz, while four-pole AC drives reach approximately 1,800 rpm.

Converter Circuit

AC drives require two converter circuits: one to convert AC to DC and an inverter to convert DC back to AC. DC drives only require one converter circuit—the rectifier that allows AC to DC conversion.

Complexity

Because they utilize two conversions, AC drives are considered more complex than DC drives. This allows for easier repair of DC drives, which may save you time on the factory floor.

Cost

Due to the simplicity of their design, DC drives are generally less expensive than AC drives. Repairing or replacing a DC drive will typically cost less than AC drive maintenance.

When you need local or remote operator controls for power modules, there isn’t a better choice than the Reliance FlexPak 3000. It’s a DC drive line that’s ideal for configured drive applications in which you require as much wiring and panel flexibility as possible.

Now that you know the difference between DC and AC drives in automation, you can choose which is best for you based on your applications. When you require a more efficient option, you may want to choose DC power. LED lights, for example, are far more efficient than incandescent lights, and a majority of LEDs utilize DC power. If you have any questions about the differences between these two types of drives, contact the experts at AX Control.

The Difference Between DC & AC Drives in Automation

4 Examples of PLCs in Industrial Automation

Programmable logic controllers, or PLCs, are an essential part of many industrial workflows. Read on to learn some examples of PLCs in automation.

Programmable logic controllers (PLCs) are simple computers that assist in automation and machine function in industrial applications. With a range of connected input devices, PLCs can collect data and trigger responses. There are several different uses for PLCs, depending on the capacity of the given device and the industry. Read on to learn four examples of PLCs in industrial automation.

Manufacturing

In manufacturing production, PLCs are most often used to send data to plant managers. Using the information collected by PLCs, plant managers can perform data analysis and determine the best way to use their resources to promote efficiency in their facilities.

Robotics

While robotics is a field that is undergoing incredible growth, one system that appears to be quite capable right now is PLC software. Most robots contain controllers with programmable logic that facilitates independent operation. Typically, a single, centralized PLC controls a group of robots, which can help reduce the costs that come with unique PLC integrations for every robot.

Monitoring

One of the most effective uses for PLCs is in monitoring. PLCs can keep track of several inputs and outputs and can then either make decisions using programmable logic or send the information to another location for data analysis. In either case, human-based decisions are reduced, which can help minimize mistakes and lead to greater efficiency in a variety of industries.

Food Processing

In food processing, PLCs are mainly utilized to identify contaminants in water and liquid flow rates. Should the PLC notice anything amiss, it can notify managers of the food processing facility so that they can correct the problem. One of the most effective programmable logic controllers on the market is the AutoMax PLC, a system that can run both ladder logic programs and BASIC.

Now that you know a bit more about programmable logic controllers and some examples of PLCs in industrial automation, consider acquiring some for your own industrial facility. They’re incredibly useful tools to have at your disposal!