When a 100-year-old lathe machine pairs with a modern DC drive, beautiful things can happen (and much money can be saved).
A large machine shop called and asked our Innovative-IDM onsite repair team to troubleshoot some pre-World War II era motor-generator (MG) controls. The equipment being controlled was a very large Betts lathe machine with a 30-inch bed.
Betts machinery has a long and storied history in American manufacturing lore. No one at the shop knew exactly how old the lathe machine was, but (to get an idea) the last U.S. Patent date on the motor nameplate is 1914.
After troubleshooting the exciter/speed controls for a while (with limited documentation to rely on) we found multiple burned components. We started talking about retrofitting, which we determined would consist of a 250HP AC motor, a gearbox, and new VFD and controls.
Too expensive and too much time.
I had an idea. Innovative-IDM is a distributor for Bardac drives, and because of that relationship, we were able to secure next-day delivery of two small, 16 amp, analog DC drives.
The following day, we installed these Bardac drives in the MG cabinet. We set them up as field controllers to regulate current on the field windings of the DC generator and DC lathe machine motor.
Long story short: By regulating these fields with small electronic drives, we replaced an entire cabinet full of 80-year-old components with two small circuit boards.
The century-old lathe machine motor runs sweeter than ever, and the old motor-generator controls set is still kicking. The customer was back running the lathe machine in a day. He saved tens of thousands of dollars on what would have otherwise been an expensive and time-consuming retrofit.
Onsite repairs is all about troubleshooting and finding the best solution for the customer. Sometimes that means a complete retrofit, and other times a little creative problem solving and a great relationship with a vendor like Bardac. Contact me at the email below if you need onsite repair.... or, just want to talk about old lathes.
Joey Fairchild is a field service technician in IIDM's Baton Rouge location. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org