Decorative surfacing materials, in the form of laminates, are often used to add beauty to furniture such as speaker cabinets and kitchen cupboards. Many of these PVC-based laminates are embossed with a wood-grain finish, making the embossing line a critically important part of the production process. Renolit Cramlington Ltd., Northumberland, England, produces a wide range of these decorative materials, but ran into some production concerns recently: The embossing line’s control system was becoming obsolete and difficult to maintain, which meant downtime was becoming a problem.

After an engineering survey, Oracle Drive Systems, West Yorkshire, England, presented two ways to upgrade the drives and the control system. One method suggested using ac drives and motors, while the other suggested dc drives from Sprint Electric Ltd., Arundel, England — 19 10 kw and two 20 kw digital PL/X DC drives.

“The dc solution offered the best value for money,” explains John Mullins, Oracle’s technical director. “And because of the small footprint, the drives were able to be retrofitted into the existing control panel.”

The retrofit took place within a shutdown period of two weeks, replacing single-phase dc drives, a Leonard and Bauer digital phase locking unit, and a Dingden unit, which was a large rack of analog and digital control cards used to control the line drive system. Bardac Ethernet cards were fitted to the dc drives. A Bardac Smarty, a DIN rail-mounted processor unit which also sat on the Ethernet network, was used to control the phase locking. The functionality of the Dingden unit was replaced by using software within the Ethernet cards and the built-in software blocks of the dc drives.

The wireless network allowed commissioning to be done quickly and easily because it was possible to check in/out signals directly using a laptop computer. And because Renolit’s shift engineers were involved in the commissioning process, they could gain experience with the new equipment from the start. For more information, visit Sprint Electric.