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PowerFlex 70's application in Tobacco Industry

Customer Profile

KSEC is a state owned enterprise primarily serving the production needs of China’s massive tobacco and tobacco products industry.


Offering the most advanced technology to its customers was vital for survival in the high competitive Chinese tabacco machinery market . When asked to bid for a new accessory materials transportation system at the Ningbo Cigarette factory, it was clear that advanced drive systems would provide both an important technical edge and the answer to some vexing technical problems.


The accessory materials transportation system would be made up of two identical systems, designed to transfer material between two floors of the Ningbo plant. Comprising six separate conveyor systems, the new accessory materials transportation system would replace the existing labor intensive loading and transportation system used in this part of the factory. It was vital that acceleration and deceleration of the conveyors was precisely controlled, otherwise material would slip from the conveyor. Similarly, the drive system had to be able to run at particularly low speeds (20 Hz) for long periods of time. Braking of the conveyor systems was also important, as the conveyor needed to be brought to a stop quickly and efficiently. Ningbo Cigarettes had also requested a drives system that would offer connectivity to a serial network.


But most important of all from an OEM perspective were the issues of cost, ease-of-use and size. “This type of technology, of course, must be the best for our customer — but it also must be the best price and quick and easy to use,” explains KSEC electrical engineer Yang Yi. “Ultimately price and userfriendliness are the key determinants when selecting such technologies.”


KSEC was selected to develop the accessory transportation system for Ningbo cigarettes in early 2002, after  competing against a field of more than 20 domestic and foreign tenders. To address the drives needs KSEC opted for six Allen-Bradley PowerFlex 70 variable speed drive units, coupled with the Allen-Bradley SLC-500 small controller. 


The PowerFlex 70 AC drive offered the ideal solution in this particular application. The drive’s unique ‘S’ curve accelerating / decelerating function provided the smooth speed control required, while its integrated brake unit with internal resistor offered the fast conveyor stopping demanded under certain operational situations. Conveyor and elevator speed regulation and stop/start co ordination is carried out by the powerful Allen-Bradley SLC-500 controller.


“The drives were also particularly easy to install and commission,” says Yang.  Key attributes providing this were the unit’s ‘pull apart’ terminal block, which offered huge benefits in speeding power wiring, and the Allen-Bradley PC based drive configuration software DriveExplorer. 


“DriveExplorer really shortened our drive-commissioning time,” Yang explains. “ We could simply store the parameters for one drive, then quickly download to the next in the series!”


Other OEM benefits of the PowerFlex 70 include the LCD human machine interface (HMI), which offers multilingual text display for drive  programming, trouble shooting and start up. The LCD HMI also features ‘S.M.A.R.T start’— a feature that provides a selection of the most common operational parameters for quick commissioning.


By adopting Allen-Bradley PowerFlex 70 AC drives for the accessory material transportation system at Ningbo Cigarette Factory, KSEC has saved around 25% on the cost of drive systems. “We’re very pleased with the result,” Yang says. ”The savings came about as a result of a number of factors — primarily reduced installation and commissioning time, and by using smaller enclosures for the drives.” 


If KSEC had opted to use its regular drives, it is estimated that an additional 40% of cabinet space would have been required to accommodate them. By Yang’s estimates, the use of DriveExplorer reduced an impressive 14.5 hours from the total drives precommissioning and commissioning period for the six conveyors. Similarly the simplified wiring technique — specifically the pull-apart wiring modules of PowerFlex 70 — saved a further three hours of installation time on the accessory materials transportation project.


These on-site materials and labor savings, coupled with the competitive pricing of the PowerFlex 70 AC drives to KSEC’s legacy selection, has resulted in a total savings to the OEM of almost 25% on the project’s drive systems. “The PowerFlex 70 has certainly proven the best choice for this type of project,” Yi says. “Not only have we helped Ningbo Cigarette Factory to meet its goal to be the most technically advanced in its field, we’ve realized the fastest turn around time on the system — which is a big win for the customer — and saved on site labor and real material costs.”


The architecture below depicts Rockwell Automation’s concept of an Information Enabled Enterprise. The area outlined with a brown dash line represents the present automation level in the facility under discussion in this document. The remaining portion illustrates a host of solutions that Rockwell Automation can provide today to integrate the plant floor to the enterprise and beyond. controller. 


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