Perkins pumps up test facilities with Softstart control system 08 August 2011
Perkins Engines reports significantly improved facilities for evaluating diesel engine fuel pump systems since commissioning a new motor, variable speed drive and control system from Softstart UK.
The new plant, at its global engine development centre in Peterborough, was installed as part of a major upgrade to an existing test facility, earlier this year, with the objective of extending the capabilities of the rig for more pumps types.
Jason Poole, component test engineer at Perkins Engines, explains that the test rig is used to look not only at the performance of the pumps, but also the associated fuel injectors and engine control modules (ECMs).
"We decided to go with the offer from Softstart UK for several reasons," he says. "We liked the company's proposal, which showed a clear understanding of our requirements, and we also knew from previous experience of working with Softstart that it not only provides excellent equipment, but also complements it with equally excellent support. Finally, Softstart's pricing was very competitive."
Before it was upgraded, the test rig employed a dc motor, arranged for variable speed operation, to drive the pump under test. The motor could only provide output torque up to 50Nm and, while adequate when the rig was first designed, is nowhere near sufficient for the latest pumps.
In addition, the existing dc motor and drive system were becoming unreliable and difficult to maintain, while the rig's relay logic-based control system offered, by modern standards, a poor user interface.
Poole says that replacing the existing dc motor with a standard ac induction motor was key – motor control technology having moved on since the rig was first built. Softstart chose a 37kW, four-pole, foot-mounted machine which was easily capable of meeting the new torque requirements.
The firm also went for a Hyundai 37kW N700V inverter drive, chosen for its durability, speed and torque response, and because of its speed sensor feedback, which enables speed accuracy and stability, as well as high torque from standstill.
As for the control system, it is a Hitachi EH-150 modular PLC with a touch-screen Hitachi EH-TP45 operator interface, together enabling intuitive monitoring and control, while also allowing for easy modifications should the need arise.
Poole says that, since installation and commissioning, the new plant has proved "totally reliable" in operation, and says that the test rig is now much more convenient to use as well as being more versatile.
The new drive system can also provide up to 120Nm of torque continuously, with a peak up to 180Nm for short periods, which is fine for testing even the largest of modern fuel pumps.
Softstart UK Ltd
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