Industrial vacuums are suction based machines used to perform a task in processes such as manufacturing on a large scale. Industrial vacuums operate anywhere from atmospheric pressure to 1 torr. Traditional varieties include liquid ring and rotary vane pumps, but one issue with them was that they were fixed speed machines which could not address the varied processes involved in fluctuating demand. In recent years, there have been significant advancements in technology and efficiency to the industrial vacuum pump. These changes include improvements in speed, efficiency, energy effectiveness and more.

The Introduction Of Variable Speed Drive

This particular addition to vacuum pump technology is very significant as it directly addresses the issues caused by fluctuating demand. In the past, much energy was wasted in producing lower output than optimal. Now, by controlling the motor speed to match the process demand, the system becomes much more energy efficient.

Variable Speed Drive In Application

While this new technology holds water in theory, there are limitations to its application. Turn down capacity, or the amount of available functional speed reduction, can be limited depending on the types of pumps used. In terms of effectiveness, the oil-sealed rotary screw benefits the most with variable speed drive technology applied. With it, the machine can operate anywhere from full speed down to around 10 percent of its max speed. On the other hand, a liquid ring pump enjoys less effectiveness. The actual compression in such a pump occurs when a volume of gas is trapped within a ring of liquid, much like a washing machine’s spin cycle. This ring of liquid is related through centrifugal force. With a slower pump motor, centrifugal force is lost and thus too the compression. Similarly, rotary vane technology which also depends on centrifugal force is unable to work effectively at a lower speed.

Mitigating Power Spikes With Variable Speed Drive

Fixed vacuum pumps tend to spike in power at startup where the pump goes from zero to full throttle. On the other hand, variable speed drive pumps can control the motor speed so the power is increased gradually. Furthermore, the motor size can also be smaller with a variable speed drive, as the motor size does not need to accommodate the aforementioned power spike.

While there may be certain limitations to variable speed drive vacuum pumps, they do offer certain smart solutions which may help your industry processes depending on your needs. Many processes can and do benefit greatly in terms of cost savings and energy efficiency by adopting variable speed drive in their pumps, as well as the ability to maintain a consistent vacuum level which results in better product quality and reduced flow requirements, lower maintenance levels compared to vane technology, and lower installed motor power than the fixed speed pumps.

If you are unsure as to whether variable speed drive is a technology you should adopt, feel free to speak to a consultant with Airtech USA to walk you through a custom engineering solution based on your needs. Otherwise, feel free to browse our online catalogue of vacuum and compressed air systems.