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UK-made AC drives help aluminium plant boost finishing mill operations

UK-made AC drives help aluminium plant boost finishing mill operations

Six 200kW Unidrive M700 AC variable frequency drives (VFDs) from Control Techniques are boosting the uptime of finishing mill operations at a major aluminium manufacturing facility in India. Facing ongoing issues with its previous drives, the plant turned to Control Techniques following the company’s readiness to take full responsibility for the entire project.

Bharat Aluminium Company Ltd (‘Balco’) was incorporated in 1965 as a PSU (Public Sector Undertaking), since when the company has fulfilled a pivotal role in India’s aluminium industry. Based at Korba in the state of Chhattisgarh, Balco is India’s largest aluminium manufacturing company. It is a partially integrated operation with its own captive bauxite mines, refinery and smelters, mainly producing primary aluminium.

Seeking to develop a reliable solution to overcome the downtime of two finishing mills in Balco’s casting house, which produce aluminium wire rod coil and billets for the global automotive and consumer goods markets, Control Techniques recommended a 1200kW AC VFD standby drives system based on six 200kW Unidrive M700 drives. The drives are required to operate with existing Leroy Somer SLSHR liquid-cooled induction motors, which are particularly suited to variable speed operation. A further requirement was that the M700 series drives were to be configured on Ethernet (on-board real-time Ethernet is included as standard on the M700) with a Rockwell safety controller.

The drive was designed to operate as an on-demand standby for both of Balco’s production finishing mills, offering acceleration and deceleration of 1.5 seconds per 1000 rpm. Furthermore, the mills had to run in closed loop configuration and stop and start in 1.3 seconds. The use of DBR (dynamic braking resistor) braking was another requirement of the project.

“Control Techniques actually devised the solution of using a standby drive system that would eradicate production downtime on our production mills,” said Balco’s Nithiyanand Mondal. “They also had extensive experience in the metal manufacturing industry and were very familiar with Rockwell technology. Ultimately, we found Control Techniques offered timely responses to our enquiries from both a technical and commercial perspective. They were very clear in the proposed solution how it would be carried out.”

Unidrive M700 AC drives are designed to offer class-leading induction and permanent magnet servo motor performance, with real-time Ethernet. The drives include an on-board advanced motion controller capable of controlling 1.5 axes, while MCi modules can be added to execute larger programs if required. An SI-Safety module can be accommodated for safe motion functions.

For the project at Balco, the SI-Application Plus module from Control Techniques was utilised so that specific application programs could be used. Also deployed was the SI-Ethernet module. This supports real-time Ethernet (IEEE 1588 V2 Precision Time Protocol), HTTP, SMTP, EtherNet/IP and Modbus TCP/IP. It can be used to provide high-speed drive access, global connectivity and integration with IT network technologies such as wireless networking.

“This is the first time we have used Control Techniques and found them to be enthusiastic and professional in their service provision,” said Mr Mondal. “As a result, we are likely to use them again on future projects here at Balco. Indeed, we have since made an enquiry for a DC drive solution for another application in our casting house.”

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