Smart Drives Simplify Cable Winding Automation

Fort Smith, AR, November 15, 2006 --- A smart AC motor drive from Baldor Electric Co.'s H2 family has allowed Centrilift Cable to eliminate a PLC, and improve the productivity of winding finished cable onto drums, at its facility in Claremore, Oklahoma.

Centrilift Cable makes specialized cabling for the electrical submersible pumping systems used in oil and gas wells. Its products are packaged with equipment from sister company Centrilift Pump Plant to create turnkey pumping solutions. Both companies are divisions of Baker-Hughes.

Cable is manufactured for each individual customer, and can include application-specific numbers and sizes of wires, insulation and armor coating - giving each cable a different diameter. The finished cable is wound directly onto a large drum as it is fed from the manufacturing line with its wire drawing, coating and spooling machinery.

This operation was controlled by a PLC sending 0-to-10V control signals to two 'dumb' AC motor drives: one to control the drum rotation, and one to control the traversing motion. However, before each winding process, the operator first had to make manual calculations using charts and tabular data, to feed into the PLC program, in order to account for the particular cable size and feeding speed.

Centrilift decided to review the process to see if efficiency could be improved. Harold Eastin of Centrilift, and Matt Asbill of automation supplier Motion Industries, decided to simplify the winding system by taking advantage of an electronic gearing feature in Baldor's intelligent H2 AC motor drive, which can act as a small machine and motion control system.

This ratio function allows the two drives in this application to synchronize automatically, based simply on input of the cable size using the drive's integral keypad and display. The traversing drive simply takes the drum rotation speed from the first drive, and automatically calculates the gearing ratio needed to produce uniform spooling.

The first drive also uses its built-in intelligence to dynamically manage the spooling process, adjusting speed according to a voltage level taken from a potentiometer on the 'dancer arm' that tensions the cable as it is fed. The winding process tends to start slowly, and then speed up. As the dancer arm signal changes, the drive alters its speed accordingly, with the traversing drive following in synchronization.

According to Harold Eastin of Centrilift, "Using two smart drives in tandem has allowed us eliminate the PLC and the manual programming steps, and do away with a lot of signal wiring as well."

Matt Asbill of Motion Industries, who did the installation and set-up added, "On automation improvement projects we are typically installing PLCs and throwing away relays. In this case we removed both. With this installation, Centrilift Cable is seeing better than a 25% increase in productivity, simply by exploiting the intelligence built into the H2 drive."

Bill Hunt, a drives specialist with Baldor's regional office in Tulsa commented, "We usually think of adding more intelligence by using touch screens and PLCs, but in this case that just added difficulty. At Centrilift, we used Baldor's drive technology to do a ratio function required in this application."

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