Ask Al presented by Quad Plus - Siemens Masterdrive Servicing

I have received many notifications about the discontinuation of the Siemens Masterdrive. As an owner of this drive system, this is the type of communication that causes anxiety. Questions such as How am I going to get parts, repairs, and service immediately start swirling in your head. And the biggest question of all is, if I have to remove and replace these drives, how much will it cost, how long will it take, and are their implications to my automation system.

So, what exactly does this notice mean?

As shown in fig 1, the Masterdrive started what Siemens calls Phase out in Oct 2010. During Phase out, parts and refurbished units are available from Siemens with the caveat that prices and delivery grow. So after 2020, Siemens will only provide spares and repairs on an opportunistic basis. Lucky for us, there is a very large secondary market for parts and repairs that will sustain itself for many more years after this date.

Simovert Masterdrive

Fig 1

In 2009, Siemens sold the 1 millionth Masterdrive! This is an incredible accomplishment. As most users know from experience, the Masterdrives power electronics are very rugged, reliable and industrial grade. The internal communications and dense packaging made sectional coordinated drives very effective. It also has a very functional logic system. Now the vast programming possibilities are great for local control functions, but can also be a bit of an Achilles heel when it comes to replacing the drive. The Sinamics drive is not backwards compatible to the Masterdrives, and the majority of drives on the market today cannot be programmed to emulate the Masterdrive logic and communications. So, many users have quite a dilemma on their hands. What do you do?

Certainly, one choice is to replace the entire system which will probably also require an upgrade to your automation system…if you can afford it and have the time, have at it. But, I would also suggest that you should consider extending the life of the drive…. which you can do at a fraction of the cost of a new system. Let’s look at the key factors to consider with regard to the replacement strategy of your drive system:

  • Performance
  • Field Service Availability
  • Spare Part Availability
  • Repair Availability
  • Reliability

Performance- This is not an issue with regard to age. The speed of the drive and its ability to produce torque will not deviate from its as built levels.

Field Service, Spare Parts and Repairs for the Masterdrive are also widely available in the USA and in fact throughout the world. A Spare parts risk exists with certain IGBT’s, particularly in the very large frame sizes. However, this risk is mitigated by the devices being stocked by both siemens and companies such as Quad Plus. We also have strategies in place to address this eventuality.

So, in my opinion, the real issue to address is reliability. What good is an inverter that you can repair if it is failing at higher rates than expected?

Quad plus has a life extension program for the Masterdrive that has evolved over many years that can maintain high drive reliability. We have repaired over 2000 Masterdrives over the years, and maintain countless units in the field. In the course of these activities, we have compiled data on what fails first, and what areas need attention and preemptive actions to maintain high levels of reliability. Through the experience of others, we have also learned that original OEM parts must be used.

So, what do we do? Here are the major areas addressed by our Masterdrives life extension program:

  • Cooling Systems- (Fans wearing out 4 years, water cooling clean and flush, upgrade of hoses and clamps, cleaning of heatsinks)
  • DC bus capacitors- (Change based on environment and application profile, change for sure after 15 years)
  • Fiber optic performance
  • Gate drivers (proactive component replacement, fiber optics (ivi, ipi, impi)
  • IGBT-(we assess condition based on environment and application)
  • Power Supplies- (electrolytic caps, and small contactors)
  • Internal power connections— (capacitor stabs, power connections)

Another strategy we support is the “one at a time” replacement of drives over a period of several years. Our customers will typically have the displaced drive reconditioned for use as a future spare. We have success in implementing this methodology which allows you to upgrade your complete system over several fiscal years on your opex or maintenance budget.

In a good environment, you can get another 10 years operation with our program. We can perform the work on site, or you can send a unit to one of our service centers. And we stand behind our program. We provide a 12-month warranty on all drives we recondition. Our program costs an average of 30% of the hardware replacement cost! Note that you will also avoid the additional engineering and automation costs I mentioned earlier

So, if you are considering what strategy to take with regard to your Masterdrives, or if you need spares repairs or field service or quotes on our Life Extension program, give us a call at 1-877-870-QUAD or email us at service@quadplus.com

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