Monthly Archives: October 2022

Phoenix Contact’s journey to become lead-free

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One of the main difficulties the metalworking industry has had to overcome over the past 50 years is producing “lead-free.” Phoenix Contact recognized their responsibility to decrease lead exposure early on in order to safeguard public health and the environment. We set this objective with the intention of significantly improving life quality. To accomplish this, the company tried numerous of its own production methods as well as dozens of other materials.

Lead is a heavy metal that harms human health and builds up in the environment and in living things. Therefore, most products and fuels no longer contain it.

For the producers of electronic goods, this fundamental revolution is still to come. Phoenix Contact already established this goal for itself early on and will be able to provide lead-free versions of the majority of its circular connection product line this year.

Every product, every process under scrutiny

Phoenix Contact project participants have been collaborating across regions for many years to find appropriate materials and modify production techniques. To explore this subject from scientific perspective, Phoenix Contact participated in research project started at the RWTH Aachen University. For diverse lead-free copper alloys, the participants here established fundamental processing techniques. This served as the foundation for the technology’s real development at the Blomberg facility.

The investigations revealed, among other things, that alloys without lead performed chip breaking less effectively than those that did. Lead not only enables good chip breaking in normal industrial production processes, but it also facilitates cold forming and ensures simple lubrication in the material. Without lead, these characteristics deteriorate.

From that point on, production and the technology laboratory had to constantly exchange ideas in order to find the ideal material, which had a scientific basis. For instance, if a copper alloy contained less zinc, its machinability attributes increased but its capacity for cold forming declined. The crimp connections were the focus of the product designers’ attention since they needed to have strong electrical conductivity, be long-lasting, and also have good machining and cold-forming capabilities. The search was a delicate balancing act that called for close coordination between suppliers, technological labs, product developers, and the department in charge of series production.

Phoenix Contact made an investment in its own production equipment for its test series using lead-free alloys to prevent continued production from slowing down due to intensive material testing. The business even created a brand-new method for chip cracking and submitted a patent application.

The European RoHS Directive

European RoHS directive have already restricted or even outright banned several substances that negatively impact environment. However, certain dangerous compounds are not yet replaceable due to their technical characteristics. For example, lead is still authorized in Exception 6c in Annex III of Directive 2011/65/EU up to a mass percentage of 4%. RoHS Directive set an end to this exception on July 21, 2021. From that point on, it would have been illegal to sell electrical and electronic equipment in Europe if the material included more lead than 0.1 percent.

Similar laws are in place in several nations. The “China-RoHS,” ensures equivalent material bans in China, whereas Switzerland has passed the ChemRRV (Chemical Risk Reduction Ordinance). Lead is on the list of compounds of concern in the “Japan RoHS,”. However, South Korea has accepted a significant portion of European standards in the “Korea RoHS.” In the United States, similar regulations are also in the works. Phoenix Contact has finished the technical and process engineering preparations needed to offer lead-free products, regardless of whether the European Union renews the exclusion clause or not.

Changing processes soon enough

The switch to lead-free copper alloys for the electronics sector is a massive undertaking, much like the switch to unleaded fuels. It would take decades to complete the work required, not years. The responsible planners must quickly adjust electronic equipment and take lead-free components into account while planning. Anyone designing products today who does not want to painfully renew certifications for the product in the coming years should take the RoHS issue into account early on when choosing components.

Given this, Phoenix Contact is already in compliance with current legal specifications and demands. Developers can already plan future-proof devices that simultaneously safeguard both the environment and people. To this purpose, thousands of products already have lead-free versions available.

There is currently a sizable assortment of lead-free circular connectors available from Phoenix Contact. Thanks to the constant expansion of the metric M5 to M58 series a nearly lead-free product range will be accessible.

Speed Starters for Asynchronous Motors

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Asynchronous Motor

Asynchronous motors are supplied via over-dimensioned frequency converters (FCs). Since a speed starter’s noteworthy advantages include quick installation and starting, it is perfect for simple programs with few functionality.

Industrial plants contain a large number of electric motors. The majority of motors carry out straightforward functions, such as moving things or liquids from one location to another or carrying out the necessary processes.

Speed Starter Steps

Logistics centers, machines, and systems perform these tasks. A motor is operated in a variety of ways. Nowadays, frequency converters are employed in the majority of applications, particularly when soft starts or varied speeds are necessary.

Frequency converters are intricate machines that perform several tasks but are frequently oversized. This is due to the fact that their most prevalent applications at the moment usually include straightforward activities that simply demand for two fixed speeds and/or a ramp function with a gentle start and soft stop of the motor.

Safe shutdown up to SIL 3 and PLE

A device class between motor starters and frequency converters is provided by the new speed starter from the Contactron product family. The small solution provides all required features in a single housing and impresses with its simple operation:

The CrossPowerSystem power distribution system
  • Direct start of asynchronous motors
  • Reversing start
  • Full motor protection
  • Different speed settings
  • Soft start and soft stop of the motor
  • Safe stop with Safe Torque Off

The device has several benefits for the user, but its built-in Safe Torque Off (STO) capability allows for a safe shutdown up to safety levels SIL 3, PL e, and Cat 4. There is a substantial space savings in the control cabinet due to the small housing dimensions, which have an overall width of only 35 millimeters.

Easy wiring and an intuitive operation concept ensure quick installation and startup. As a consequence, it is possible to adopt a cost-effective solution using the speed starter from the Contactron product family, which has all the essential features for varying speeds and soft start.

In the most common uses, an emergency stop switch must be able to securely stop rotating and moving parts, for instance, in the event of a jam or an emergency. Use the Contractron series’ quick starter to design a redundant system and prevent malfunction, hence, ensuring safety.

Therefore, a second contactor is not necessary for a safe motor shutdown. On the controller side, use the STO+ and STO- connectors to accomplish a two-channel shutdown . With only a short installation area, the Contractron fast starter achieves safety classifications SIL 3, PL e, and Cat. 4.

Quick startup in less than a minute

Machine manufacturer can offer a more competitive solution and speedup the application installation by using Phoenix Contact’s speed starters.

To start the motor and apply a control signal to an adjustable fixed speed, you must wire the load input and output. The motor can then start operating right away. It must be possible to customize the parameters for the appropriate application, of course. The user-friendly operating idea, which consists of a display, five LEDs, two up and down buttons, a set/reset button, and a rotary switch, accomplishes this.

Setting the motor’s nominal current is the first step in protecting it against overload. As a result, it is no longer essential to install an additional motor protection relay. Set the rotary switch to the “Current” position and input the desired value by using the up and down buttons. Verify the value by pushing the set/reset button. When a value is changed, it immediately begins to flash in the display. The value is always visible after saving. It is also simple to adjust the ramp time, or the amount of time the motor takes to reach the desired speed.

To achieve this, the user simply moves the rotary switch to the “Ramp” position, inputs the new value using the up or down button as previously mentioned, and saves it by pushing the set/reset button.

Different versions for different requirements

speed starter operator interface

Set the rotary switch to “Status” to view electrical values such as frequency, current, voltage, temperature, etc. Use the same method to adjust the speed.

Set the speed to the “Speed1” position and select the correct frequency value by using the up and down buttons. Verify your selection by pushing the set/reset button.

The LEDs flash in the “R” or “L” direction of rotation, which is also selectable with the up or down button and remembered by pressing the set/reset button. Repeat this procedure to facilitate a second speed:

  1. Move the rotary switch to the “Speed2” position.
  2. Specify the value using the up or down button.
  3. Press the set/reset button to confirm.

If desired, the user can make additional settings by turning the rotary switch to the “Options” position.

For single-phase and three-phase load input, the speed starters of the Contactron series offers performance classes ranging from 0.25 to 1.5 kilowatts, with or without an integrated EMC filter. The devices with filters built in come with a plug-in, changeable fan, whereas the ones without filters only have a heatsink.

In conclusion, fast starters are a convenient option appropriate for a variety of uses. Users gain from a device class positioned between motor starters and frequency converters under the tagline “Connect, set, start.”