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Standardized plugin IE4 drives for baggage handling systems | The Machine Maker

One baggage handling system OEM came to greatly appreciate certain features of the NORD DRIVESYSTEMS products they had chosen to include: encoder connectivity, positioning capability, and plug-in connectors that ensure fast and safe installation and commissioning. In addition, versatile interfaces enable efficient networking and remote monitoring of the devices in the field as well as the use of drives as distributed I/O nodes. On top of that, they were able to benefit from a variant reduction that greatly simplified spare parts management.

Though passenger numbers and luggage volume at Victoria Airport in British Columbia, Canada, are nowhere near the numbers at large international hubs, it was exactly for this reason that the baggage handling system (BHS) posed major challenges to the handling system OEM. This airport did not have a lot of room to accommodate all the usual modules – from check-in through security screening to sorting. The airport company commissioned Glidepath, a manufacturer specializing in baggage conveying, parcel sorting, and freight logistics technology.

Lots of technology in little space
The new handling system has a capacity of 750 pieces of luggage per hour. "The baggage handling system is made up of 85 conveyors with a total length of some 250 m," says Jason Williams, project engineer at Glidepath. "It comprises two in-line screening CT machines. It has two decision points for sortation, and it has two separate infeed lines. It has four-way sorters, spiral power curves, bag alignment devices, a luffing conveyor, and Glidepath’s proprietary ploughs and power curves."

All in one
All drive tasks are carried out by IE4 AC vector drives from NORD DRIVESYSTEMS. Each drive unit consists of an IE4 permanent-magnet synchronous motor, a motor-mounted NORDAC FLEX frequency inverter, and a two-stage gearbox. The hollow shaft gearboxes are secured on the drive axis with a Gripmaxx bushing. This attachment ensures safe, easy-maintenance fitting without keys. The drive systems achieve excellent efficiencies even in the partial load range and at low speeds. They therefore pay for their initial cost within a few years or even only months, and total expenses over the product lifespan are significantly reduced. The frequency inverters are configured exactly to Glidepath’s specifications – with plug-in connectors for power, communications, encoders, and sensors. They feature an internal EtherNet/IP interface and are designed for easy feed-through installation.

Easy, intelligent networking
The pluggable drives saved Glidepath a lot of time during installation and commissioning. The coded connectors enable speedy, error-free networking. Williams appreciates the versatile interfaces: "Thanks to the field I/O capability of the NORD drives, we were able to connect the majority of our field devices directly to the frequency inverters." Featuring Industrial Ethernet communications, the drives enable not only remote monitoring and control of all drive axes, but also seamless monitoring of connected sensors and actuators. For Williams, this was a crucial factor: "The real advantage here is, the drives support high-speed Ethernet, which allows for reliable bag tracking on our system."

Positioning function a welcome bonus
The drive systems take on various tasks at the conveyor modules. They move luggage at different speeds from one belt to the next. They ensure accurate height adjustment when conveying diagonally. Glidepath only came to realize the full potential of the integrated positioning function of NORDAC FLEX inverters once the drives were commissioned. As they gathered parameters for various applications, NORD engineers soon found that the positioning function was the optimal solution for the luggage sorters. "On our four-way sorters, we took advantage of the NORD positioning system. We are very happy with the result."

Great service ensures smooth processes
Glidepath project engineer Williams is more than satisfied with the professional service. A NORD specialist for their industrial sector provided significant support to Glidepath through efficient standardization. "On this project, we have just five different gear ratios for a job that has 90-odd motors in total and three different motor sizes", Williams says. "That is a huge advantage. As a consequence, we need only one spare drive per gear type and engine size." The high service level was maintained throughout the project. "We did not have any issues with commissioning NORD products. They were probably the best thing to commission on the whole job, to be honest. We did pre-commissioning on our own, but we also had the benefit of getting a NORD commissioning engineer on-site with us over the four-day commissioning phase, and he was just fantastic. He was very knowledgeable and very happy to share information, teaching us how to use the NORD CON software and the hand-held programmers. In particular, he helped us with setting up the position control with which we were not yet familiar. All of that was so valuable… it was really good. And the service did not cease with installation and commissioning. I know NORD is just a phone call away, and they have folks close-by in Seattle who can come to the airport quickly when we ask them to." After several months, Williams expanded on the drive performance in regular operation: "We are very happy with the NORD products. There is nothing I can say that is negative about them. Everything is running. We have not had any problems with drives. We have not had to replace anything. It has been a very good project, showing proof of a great collaboration between Glidepath and NORD."

NORD DRIVESYSTEMS develops, produces and sells drive technologies with around 3.600 employees, and is one of the international leaders in the industry. In addition to standard drives, NORD supplies application-specific concepts and solutions, even for special applications, for example with energy-saving drives or explosion-protected systems. Gross sales amounted to approx. EUR 630 mn in the 2017 business year. The company founded in 1965 now has over 36 subsidiaries worldwide. The closely meshed sales and service network ensures optimum availability for short delivery times and customer-oriented services. NORD produces a wide variety of drive units for torques from 10 to 200,000 Nm, electric motors with powers from 0.12 kW to 1,000 kW as well as the necessary power electronics in the form of frequency inverters and servo controllers. Inverter solutions are available for classical installations in the switch cabinet and for decentralised and fully integrated drive units. 

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