Thursday, 20 November 2014

Andy Preston, UK Drives Product Manager, ABB writes: It’s something that many process and maintenance engineers dread – a drive tripping out. As well as shutting down the process, it could mean hours of detective work to figure out the problem and get the application back on line doing what it should be doing.

Yet, a drive tripping is a good thing, as it means it was doing one of its most important jobs – protecting the motor and the process machinery. Mechanics change or loads get stuck, bearings fail or filters get blocked or lubrication is forgotten, cables or the machine itself are damaged in accidents.

If these conditions occur, the drive trips to avoid further, potentially catastrophic, damage. So we can’t blame the drive itself – it was only doing its job.

But the machine being controlled is still out of action and it may take hours to get the application running again. What can we do about that? Well, new features of some of the latest drives cut out the leg work from this process, making it much easier to get things going again.

Take the new ABB drives’ keypad. This features icons, hints, tips and help screens to show users where to look to investigate process events, helping find causes more quickly. The keypad screen displays flashing icons and pictures to attract attention and to show the reason for the event.

The clarity of the display means it is now easier to see exactly which drive has tripped, allowing it to be quickly tracked down in a large room that could contain many drives.

The keypad also has a “?” key so the user can ask the keypad for help when a fault occurs and the keypad then directs the user towards the most likely place to start to look, either in parameter settings or in the mechanics itself.

But it’s not just the keypad and its flashy icons and graphics – in ABB’s latest drives, a lot of diagnostic work goes on behind the scenes, making sure those process problems never arise in the first place.

Trip histories allow users to spot patterns of events. The trips and warnings are also time stamped so the frequency of an event can be easily tracked, allowing preventive maintenance to be performed before a major issue occurs.

Under “prevention” the drive also contains a number of “trip avoidance” functions whereby the drive will shed load or speed to prevent a trip at all; usually flagging a warning so preventative work can be undertaken. It even manages to “ridethrough” a power outage by recovering energy from the driven load to keep going until the power comes back on.

A PC based support package allows the maintenance engineer to get further help if needed. It generates a package containing all the event data, the parameter files and other useful information. This can be e-mailed to ABB to help it diagnose the issue. It provides all the necessary data in one go – with no need for several visits, it saves time and gives a faster diagnosis.

These are just some of the useful new diagnostic features that can make engineers lives easier – so when your drive trips in the future, you will be able to thank it, resolve the issue in double quick time and get on with your day.


  1. Hello! Thanks for this article. It is new for me. I like abb and use a lot of tools of this manufacturer! I have never had any problems with it! I want to ask where can I get it! I cannot find it in any online shop! As usual I look here but they have nothing! I suppose it is novelty? I need the links of some resellers! I will be very greatful for sharing!

  2. Hi Scott, many thanks for your comment. If you would like to email me your location I will put you in touch with your local representative. Please email In the meantime, here is a link to our ACS880 industrial drives series: