There are many and diverse reasons for using Variable Frequency Drives. Some applictaions, such as paper making machines, cannot run without them while others, such as centrifugal pumps, can benefit from energy savings.

In general, Variable Frequency Drives are used to:

Match the speed of a Delta VFD Drive to the process requirements
Match the torque of a drive to the process requirements
Save energy and improve efficency

The needs for speed and torque control are usually fairly obvious. Modern electrical Mitsubishi VFD can be used to accurately maintain the speed of a driven machine to within ±0.1%, independent of load, compared to the speed regulation possible with a conventional fixed speed squirrel cage induction motor, where the speed can vary by as much as 3% from no load to full load.

Many people in the industry think control methods are the sequencing methods that control VFDs, as in 2- and 3-wire setups. Such 2- and 3-wire setups determine whether a VFD’s input-control terminals interface with maintained contacts or momentary push buttons to start and stop the drive. The control methods this article focuses on are perhaps more accurately called motor-control methods. They determine how VFDs control motors.

The benefits of energy savings are not always fully appreciated by many users. These savings are particulary apparent with centrifugal pumps and fans, where load torque increas as the square of the speed and power consumption as the cube of the speed. Substantial cost savings can be achieved in some applications.

An everyday example, which illustrates the benefits of variable speed control, is the motorcar. It has become such as an integral part of our lives that we seldom think about the technology that it represents or that it is simply a variable speed platfrom. It is used here to illustrate how Variable Frequency Drives are used to improve the speed, torque and energy performance of a machine.

It is intuitively obvious that the speed of a motorcar must continuously be controlled by the driver (the operator) to match the traffic conditions on the road (the process). In a city, it is necessary to obey speed limits, avoid collisions and to start, accelerate, decelerate and stop when required. On the open road, the main objective is to get to a destination safely in the shortest time without exceeding the speed limit. The two main controls that are used to control the speed are the accelerator, which controls the driving torque, and the brake, which adjusts the load torque. A motorcar could not be safely operated in city traffic or on the open road without these two controls. The driver must continuously adjust the fuel input to the engine (the drive) to maintain a consistant speed in spite of the changes in the load, such as an uphill, downhill or strong wind conditions. On other occasions he may have to use the brake to adjust the load and slow the vehicle down to standstill.

Another important issue for most drivers is the cost of fuel or the cost of energy consumption. The speed is controlled via the accelerator that controls the fuel input to the engine. By adjusting the accelerator position, the energy consumption is kept to a minimum and is mached to the speed and load conditions. Imageine the high fuel comsumption of a vehicle using a fixed accelerator setting and controlling the speed by means of the brake position.