VFD — Repair, Refurbish or Replace?

Lewys Gammond Phillips

Lewys Gammond Phillips

Marketing Officer, Kontroltek Ltd

Deciding to get a VFD repair, refurbishment or replacement can be difficult. In this blog, we try to explain what benefits each has and what you should do.

What is a VFD?

A Variable Frequency Drive (VFD) is a type of motor controller that drives an electric motor by varying the frequency and voltage supplied to the electric motor. Other names for a VFD are: variable speed drive, adjustable speed drive, adjustable frequency drive, AC drive and inverter. Inverter drives supply plants with a range of benefits. Firstly, they save energy: Electric motor systems are responsible for more than 65% of the power consumption in industry today. Installing or upgrading to VFDs can reduce energy consumption in your facility by as much as 70%. They also improve your processes; by operating your motors at the most efficient speed for your application, fewer mistakes will occur, and thus production levels increase.

Variable Speed Drives are also renowned for their efficiency and reliability; they seem to last and last…which is why it seems so catastrophic when they do breakdown. Any downtime or disruption is costly – let’s examine the factors you should be taking into consideration when deciding to get a VFD repair, refurbishment or replacement.

When it Comes to Inverters, Age isn’t Just a Number…

Before you begin tossing up between getting a VFD repair or replacement, one of the main factors in this decision will be deciphering the age of the drive and what phase it sits within its lifecycle. For example, ABB drive lifecycles have 4 phases; Active, Classic, Limited and Obsolete. As your drive moves through each phase, parts become harder (or even impossible) to obtain.

Do you know where your drives sit within their lifecycle? Is the model obsolete, and would your application benefit from the latest features and functionality? Would the drive repair be cost efficient? (If only we knew some experienced engineers who could advise on the feasibility of a repair whilst being available 24/7…)

How Critical Is Your Application?

Downtime of a critical application will cost you thousands in lost production. Another aspect that should be identified is how critical your drive is to the operation of the process. The following factors will aid in determining if your inverter is controlling a critical application:

– Business Impact (financial, environmental, safety)
– Drive stress
– Known maintenance history
– Operating conditions which may increase risk of failure (ambient temp, exposure to corrosive gases or conductive material, moisture, dust)

If your drive is controlling a critical application, replacement may seem the only option as a repair may take a drive out of action for a few days. However we can relieve some of that pressure; if it turns out that a repair would be more cost effective, but your drive controls a critical application, Kontroltek engineers can provide your plant with a Drive Hire service until we are able to provide a VFD repair and seamlessly re-install it. No fuss, no stress, minimum disruption.

Preventive Maintenance Prevents Breakdowns

You should treat components in your production line like your car. Just because a car feels ok, it doesn’t automatically mean all is working as well as it should be. As the miles clock-up, so too does the wear and tear, but because deterioration is often gradual and hidden out of sight, motorists may not see and feel the change. This can lull motorists into a false sense of security, mistakenly believing that all is ok because nothing major has gone wrong with their vehicle. Regular servicing provides peace of mind that the vehicle is in road-worthy condition.
Like regular car servicing, Kontroltek recommend carrying out regular maintenance on your drives to prevent the need of having a VFD repair, refurbishment or replacement and stop breakdowns.

Do You Need Advice on Whether to Repair or Replace Your Inverter Drive?

Do not forget; Kontroltek have experienced engineers who could advise on the feasibility of a repair. Get in contact today to ask for our advice.

CALL US US TODAY: 01656 330 460 (BRIDGEND)
0121 647 6600 (WEST MIDLANDS)

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