At the Nord Drivesystems headquarters in Bargteheide, Germany, the power, functionality and intelligence of Nord products are used to the company's own advantage across the factory floor, with geared motors and drive electronics handling various applications. Notably, this includes a recently established surface coating facility, where Nord systems drive overhead conveyors, fans and hoists.
The new surface coating facility at the Nord headquarters has twice the size of the previous paint shop. New paint booths, an automated high-bay warehouse for paint cure, and packing stations together occupy 1,400 m². An intelligent control system has, on average, halved the lead times for paint jobs. Any drive can be painted and shipped within two hours after assembly.
Paint line with a fast lane
Nord configures each drive system to order, drawing almost exclusively on components manufactured in-house. Application-specific coatings are part of this process. Fast processing of urgent orders has now become much easier. Previously, geared motors were routinely returned to the end of the queue once the first coat had been applied. The new conveyor system enables completely flexible routing: after curing, high-priority products can jump the queue and immediately get their next paint coat. Intelligent sorting algorithms also ensure that paint jobs with equal priority are optimally grouped by coating systems and shades. This has reduced wastage and setup times. In addition, state-of-the-art filter systems in the paint booths limit pollution to a minimum. The packing stations also draw on the smart sorting capabilities of the conveying systems: each packing station can be designated to handle a particular mode of shipment.
The right drive for each and every task
More than 100 drives take over various tasks in the new facility – Nord drive technology powers conveyors, hoists, exhaust ventilation and cooling fan systems. Drawing on its own modular drive program, Nord has configured optimal solutions for each of the various requirements. Both highly efficient helical bevel gear units and worm gearboxes with very high gear ratios are used. Depending on the performance and function requirements, the motors are controlled by different frequency inverter models.
Four fans with a 22,000 m³/h circulation capacity ensure proper air exchange in the paint booths. The fan drives are equipped with 22 kW distributed drives from the SK 200E frequency inverter series. The control solution enables standby mode and ensures adequate compensation of filter pollution by regulating the motor speed based on the measured air flow rate. Like all Nord inverters, these drives provide smart energy saving functionality. They automatically detect partial load and reduce the energy consumption of the motor accordingly. Since the inverters are installed on the roof along with the ventilation units, they are designed for IP66 ingress protection.
The Nord motors and gear units passing through this facility often weigh several hundred kilograms. Robust hardware is therefore required. The overhead conveyor is operated at a maximum speed of 10 m/min. It is equipped with over 100 smooth-running worm geared motors. Some parts of the facility are classified hazardous areas (Ex zone 2). The 14 drives installed within them are controlled by SK 500E series cabinet-installed inverters. All other drives feature a motor-mounted SK 180E type inverter. Designed to achieve a great price/performance ratio while offering a full complement of efficiency functions, the SK 180E supports motor outputs from 0.25 to 2.2 kW to address all simple handling tasks in horizontal applications. A technology box installed with the inverter adds a Profibus interface as well as various sensor and pneumatic interfaces for transmission of position data and controlling switches. The integrated drive configuration capability as well as the consistent use of plug connectors was instrumental in minimizing the drive installation effort in the extensive facility. The AC vector drives have a separate 24 V control voltage supply and can therefore be accessed via Profibus even when the 400 V power supply is switched off.
The facility includes a high-bay storage as a drying room. An automated storage and retrieval unit enables flexible access to all drive components. Each drive unit can be retrieved via its individual designation and automatically transported to a paint booth with the overhead conveyor. The automated storage and retrieval unit is equipped with powerful helical bevel geared motors for hoisting and driving. The telescopic jib that picks up the payload is extended by means of a light-weight, compact aluminum helical inline geared motor. NORD has implemented position control loops for the hoisting and driving axes. That is, type SK 545E frequency inverters simultaneously process absolute position data and the signal of an incremental motor encoder. They then autonomously adjust the position according to the set value specified by the automated storage and retrieval unit's PLC and report back the reached position to the PLC. The drive electronics control speed and gentle acceleration and braking (S ramps). In this application, Profinet interfaces were integrated for communication with the PLC.