ABB drives and motors help to test tracked vehicles on simulated mountain terrains

ABB drives and motors help to test tracked vehicles on simulated mountain terrains

ABB equipment plays a key role in testing vehicles under different load conditions while boosting energy efficiency by feeding electricity back into the grid.

A machine that simulates mountains might sound like an unusual place to find ABB drives and motors, but it demonstrates how they can be deployed in innovative applications. The mountain simulator is supplied by CATE, a company that specializes in turnkey testing and data acquisition equipment. CATE designed the customized test bench for Prinoth, a leading manufacturer of snow groomers and multi-purpose tracked vehicles. It is capable of testing tracked vehicles up to 650 HP, with the braking function provided by two motors and a drive from ABB.

“The motors and drive actually simulate the mountain slope,” explains Angelo Marchini, founder of CATE. “They replicate the effort required by snow groomers to travel on inclines. In the case of black pistes the slopes can have angles up to 100% or 45 degrees.”

The motors follow a pre-programmed cycle, generating a braking torque that can be increased until one or both wheels are locked. They also offer fully independent control, so the vehicle’s two tracks can be subjected to different levels of stress during operation.

  • Picture: Courtesy of CATE
  • Picture: Courtesy of CATE
  • Picture: Courtesy of CATE
  • Picture: Courtesy of CATE
  • ACS880 multidrive modules. Picture courtesy of CATE

Regenerative multidrive recovers energy

ABB supplied an ACS880 multidrive modules and two 460 kW motors for the test bench. The multidrive module delivery includes an active supply unit, that keeps the line current free of harmonics and also offers a near-unity power factor; an IGBT (insulated-gate bipolar transistor) Supply Unit (ISU); and two Inverter Units (INU) that control the left and right motor-brakes on the test bench.

The multidrive module delivery is regenerative, which means that it can capture the energy generated by the motors when they operate as brakes and feed it back into the network. This feed complies with applicable standards, with sine and cos phi values accepted by the utility company. The test bench supplies up to 560 kW back to the network, providing a significant energy saving.

"With other vendors, we’ve often had to deal with electrical noise, which has caused interference to our control equipment,” Marchini says. "But the ABB ACS880 multidrive has eliminated these issues. We are also pleased with the hardware implementation, which is designed to make maintenance easy.”

"It’s a great benefit for us that we can deal with ABB engineers directly, without having to go through a third party," Marchini states. “We can get first-hand information from ABB’s experts. From the outset, ABB supported us in analyzing and solving design issues relating to the project."

One of the design issues concerned ventilation. The electrical section of the test bench required its own cooling, separate from the test booth’s ventilation system. ABB supported CATE’s engineers – working with their colleagues from Prinoth – in designing a forced ventilation system that draws in external air.

“ABB takes everything into consideration, from electronics through mounting and connectors to ventilation, to supply an effective and efficient product,” Marchini concludes.

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