HUNT VALLEY, MD --- Industrial electronic components can and do blow up under load often at critical production times, making this a costly problem for manufacturers of all sizes. Component age, dirt accumulation, moisture, excessive heat and vibration are some of the major contributors to this problem.
When industrial electronics blow, the manufacturing line either goes down completely or works improperly, negatively affecting productivity, worker safety, order fulfillment, and ultimately, the bottom line. Eliminating costly downtime and increasing profitable uptime while simultaneously cutting overhead costs is an ongoing effort for manufacturers.
ACS Industrial Services offers the following advice for machine operators and plant/production management to identify the causes of and prevent blown electronics:
• Conductive dirt causing stray current paths – keep your equipment clean. Blow it out once a month with compressed air or use a fan with a filter to provide positive pressure to the control cabinets
• Overheating – usually from a failed cooling fan or buildup of contaminants; keep equipment clean, keep cooling fans clear of debris, and practice regular maintenance
• Gating circuit problem (the gating circuit turns IGBTs on and off) – typically caused by age but made worse by dirt, moisture or excessive vibration
• Bad voltage spike or surge – this could mean there are primary power supply problems, ground faults or a dropped phase
• Wiring short – most likely caused by aging equipment, pinched wiring harness/cable and vibration
• Overcurrent draw – can be caused by a physical problem with the machine. Anything impeding the mechanical motion of the machine could cause excessive current because the slower a motor runs, the higher the current. This could include bad bearings on a shaft, something binding the machine, or a sudden stoppage where excess current is diverted through a separate transistor and resistor combination designed to eliminate the current and protect the IGBT. If this transistor or resistor fails, the current feeds back into the IGBT and damages it.
• Shorted motor – this could mean the windings have shorted, there was a power conductor/wire insulation failure or seized brake causing overload.
Case Study: Recently a U.S.-based global exporter's production halted when a servo amplifier stopped working after an IGBT inside the amplifier literally blew apart. With deadlines compromised, decisions needed to be made fast.
The servo amp is no longer manufactured, there were no used units available, and the manufacturer no longer services that unit. Two options were available: replace it with a costly $3,000 upgrade from the original manufacturer, or get it repaired by an industrial electronic repair house. To save time and money the export firm chose the repair house, where the technicians quickly got the amplifier running again for less than half the cost of replacement.
Manufacturers should follow good and consistent maintenance procedures to minimize the chances of component damage and should have a working backup handy. On preventing blown equipment, ACS Industrial President Arnie Breidenbaugh summed it up this way: "It's pretty straightforward…keep your electronic equipment clean, cool, and dry!" The good news is most damaged industrial electronics are repairable.
About ACS Industrial Services
ACS Industrial Services is an industrial/commercial electronics repair company with locations in Hunt Valley, Maryland (Headquarters) and Hickory, North Carolina providing expert repair services for virtually all types of commercial and industrial electronics. Global clientele includes businesses ranging from Fortune 500 companies to small shops. Over 26,000 repairs completed since 1999!