How Intelligent Motion Controls Increase Product Life and Efficiency for Industrial Fans

IMC systems offers programmable controls to protect against current surges, aging, wear and more.

An assortment of industrial fans, blowers, heating elements and motors. (Image courtesy Pelonis Technologies.)

An assortment of industrial fans, blowers, heating elements and motors. (Image courtesy Pelonis Technologies.)

Cooling fans are an essential component for many electronic devices, from personal computers to HVAC equipment and medical devices, for just a few examples.

OEM companies designing these devices and equipment are expected to provide a guarantee in performance and efficiency – a task that becomes more challenging when custom solutions are required for their cooling systems.

But how can cooling fans be customized to guarantee greater performance and efficiency? Make them “smart,” of course. Adaptive hardware and software capabilities that allow the user greater control and customization are what’s essential in this context.

To create a smart cooling system, a printed circuit board (PCB) design unique to its application is built with logic functionality, to allow for programming to attain custom outputs.

Cooling systems offered by Pelonis Technologies follow this design with their Intelligent Motion Controls (IMC) system for brushless DC fans and blowers.

IMCs include full-wave in-board circuit design, among a number of fully programmable features that not only increase efficiency, but also increase product life.

“The IMC system includes various control functions that can be designed by the hardware engineer in conjunction with the end user’s design requirements,” said Sam Pelonis, president of Pelonis Technologies. “In some cases, the desired controls can be integrated into an existing design, but the greatest flexibility and performance benefits are achieved when developing a new design, so that the engineer can properly select the most suitable controls and take advantage of their full functionality to optimize his or her application’s performance.”

Controlling for Protection with IMC Systems

 (Image courtesy Pelonis Technologies.)

(Image courtesy Pelonis Technologies.)

A key feature of the IMC system is in its ability to control safety features, which ultimately prolongs the service life of the cooling fan and by extension, the entire system’s efficiency.

Design engineers and end users will need to develop their cooling systems to protect against issues including:

  • Current Surges
  • Power Supply Over-voltages
  • Blade Blockages
  • Aging or Wear

Environmental factors and sudden changes in power supply can be programmed as triggers to alter the behavior of the cooling system. This is a concept commonly seen in air conditioning units, which intelligently react to shifting temperatures to maintain a desired room temperature.

This type of efficiency can go even further, Sam Pelonis explained.

“Applications may sometimes require a cooling fan to operate based on the application’s exposure to temperature, current changes or voltage variations. IMC speed controls can increase efficiency and reliability by preventing abrupt changes in voltage and current spikes, and by monitoring and adjusting fan speed based on temperature. They also provide smooth control functionality that reduces or eliminates abrupt on/off cycling so that fan life and reliability are improved and greater efficiency is achieved.”

Protection Against Current Surges with Inrush Current Protection Control

To protect against possible threats from the power supply, a cooling system equipped with an IMC system can defend itself with inrush current protection control.

When a power switch is turned on to supply current to the fan, the registered current gradually increases toward a maximum speed and rated current. This maximum current is equal to the free running current, assuming the rotor isn’t locked at startup. The fan should achieve its rated speed within five seconds.

The inrush current protection control is a built-in control, with no external wires.

(Image courtesy Pelonis Technologies.)

(Image courtesy Pelonis Technologies.)

Protecting Against Power Supply Over-Voltages with Over-Voltage Protection Control

The over-voltage protection control keeps tabs on the power supply voltage, allowing operation up to 20 percent over the specified rated voltage, unless otherwise specified. If the power supply voltage goes over this 20 percent limit, the current will drop to zero.

The maximum over-voltage protection range is twice the value of the rated voltage. The over-voltage protection control is also built-in, with no external wire.

(Image courtesy Pelonis Technologies.)

(Image courtesy Pelonis Technologies.)

Protecting Against Blade Blockage with Auto Start Control

The auto start control, when combined with locked rotor protection and restarted with a current limit, ensures the fan will restart automatically, if the blade is blocked and then released.

When the rotor is locked, the fan current will be reduced to zero. The fan will attempt a soft start every five seconds by reverting to the inrush current protection control.

This too, is a built-in control with no external wires.

(Image courtesy Pelonis Technologies.)

(Image courtesy Pelonis Technologies.)

Protecting Against Aging and Wear with Life Detection Control

“IMC controls such as Life Detection notify the user regarding the aging or wear of the fan which is often the result of bearing failure,” said Sam Pelonis.

The life detection control is an open collector type control. A display can illustrate the signal as “HIGH” when the fan is rotating normally and “LOW” when the fan speed is rotating below 70 percent of its rated target speed.

“The slow rotation of the impeller may indicate aging or wear of the fan’s bearings or a reduced power supply voltage,” added Sam Pelonis. “This ‘early detection’ of imminent failure informs the operator for the need of eventual service of the equipment so that unnecessary equipment downtime is reduced or eliminated.”

The life detection control includes external wiring.

 (Image courtesy Pelonis Technologies.)

(Image courtesy Pelonis Technologies.)

Flexibility Through Programmability with IMC Systems

(Image courtesy Pelonis Technologies.)

(Image courtesy Pelonis Technologies.)

The controls listed above only scratch the surface of protection features offered by IMC systems, and designing for protection is only the beginning of the possibilities. Ultimately, it all comes down to programmability.

“Pelonis Technologies provides multiple controls that suit a variety of applications,” said Sam Pelonis. “With up to 15 different controls and more being developed, most application requirements can be satisfied with one or more of Pelonis’ controls that can also be customized further if necessary.  This added customization enables the OEM to optimize their equipment further and achieve an added level of efficiency and performance.”

Pelonis IMC smart fan controls are designed for flexibility, offering multi level controls that can not only enhance product life and reliability, but also add multiple speed control capabilities.

OEMs that could benefit the most from an IMC system include medical, aerospace and defense, automotive, telecommunications and advanced automation equipment, among others.

For more information on the capabilities of IMC systems, visit the Pelonis Technologies website and download their Intelligent Motion Controls for Fans and Blowers eBook. 

Download Intelligent Motion Controls for  Fans and Blowers eBook

Pelonis Technologies has sponsored this post. All opinions are mine. –Kagan Pittman