ABB Donation Furthers Motor Drives Education

April 2, 2014
“Democases” enable Automation Technology Program students at Waukesha County Technical College in Wisconsin to use latest technology in lab work and applications.

Hands-on technology training accelerates learning, and students at Waukesha County Technical College’s Automation Technologies/Electronics Laboratory will see how when they get their hands on one of eight new motor drives “democases” donated by ABB Inc.

The WCTC demonstration units “enable us to upgrade our labs and give students enhanced hands-on training with the latest available drives technology, ” said Jesse Stuller, automation instructor and supporter of industry-academic support programs at WCTC. “Our goal is to provide the highest quality education to our students. Our partnership with industry provides the avenue to accomplish that goal.”

The Automation Technology Program at Waukesha County Technical College began in 2006. The Associate Degree program contains industrial technologies such as robotics, PLC’s and drives.

The drives democases feature ABB’s new ACS880 high performance DTC product line. “These units provide a simple, yet comprehensive, all-in-one solution that is specialized for training and learning,” said Dennis Miller, the ABB senior technical instructor who arranged the donation. “The democases facilitate a complete application simulation.”

Democases from the company that feature older technology have been in use over the past 15 years, Miller says, “so this upgrade keeps the Automation Technologies Program current with latest technology that ABB offers end users. “

Because the drives are extremely easy to use, they are ideal for students to use, program and test, as they become familiar with drive technology for the first time, adds Miller.

The drive is connected to a small motor and has an external input/output control panel wired to the analog inputs, digital inputs, digital outputs and analog outputs. Students can fully simulate the use of controls for an application, and spin the motor just as it would work in a real life. A range of applications can be simulated, from very basic speed-control applications to more complex torque-control applications.

The ABB ACS880 series product line also facilitates the students learning about serial communications and PC interfacing. “The basic drives are ideal for learning how to make parameter adjustments and how to incorporate drives into electronics projects/applications. Also, the drive offers networking capability to DeviceNet and other communication module protocols, so students can see and understand how computers are used in industrial environments,” says Miller.

Programming and monitoring of the drive is accomplished via specific PC/drive software. “Students will program the drives, and operate motors that simulate real-world installations and loads,” says Miller. “Beyond an introduction to the technology, they drill into the equipment’s performance characteristics, in order to understand what control features they will be able to access, modify and offer customers in the workplace. This makes the distance between school and the workplace extremely short.”

Adjustable Speed Drives (ASDs) are used in any application in which there is mechanical equipment powered by motors; the drives provide extremely precise electrical motor control, so that motor speeds can be ramped up and down, and maintained, at speeds required; doing so utilizes only the energy required, rather than having a motor run at constant (fixed) speed and utilizing an excess of energy. These benefits help motor users realize 25 – 70 percent energy savings, according to ABB experts. Using an AC drive also prolongs the operation of small motors and reduces wear and tear in installations.

Detailed photo caption: (Left to Right) Jesse Stuller, WCTC Automation Systems Technology Instructor; Denine Rood, WCTC Vice President – Learning; Robert Novak, WCTC Associate Dean – Manufacturing; Michael Shiels, WCTC Dean - School of Applied Technologies; Dennis Miller, ABB Sr. Technical Instructor; Aaron Aleithe, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Drives and Controls, USA; Keith Jurkowski, WCTC Automation Systems Technology Instructor; Barbara Prindiville, WCTC President; and James Schabowski, WCTC Automation Systems Technology Instructor

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