MEPCA found out how drives from Danish specialist Danfoss are enabling a manufacturer of agricultural machinery to offer its customers a range of benefits, including obstruction detection.
Set up more than two decades ago, Storth Machinery is a slurry management company that designs, builds and services automated scraping systems for animal farms. From the earliest days of the business, the owners have been committed to providing machinery that offers high reliability and availability. The company’s current product range includes innovative automated rope and chain scrapers, which are essential aids to efficiency and hygiene in large-scale farming.
During the development of the scrapers, the Storth design engineers faced two challenges: detecting the end of a scrape and detecting when the scraper had encountered an animal or other obstruction. For help in addressing these challenges, Storth enlisted the help of Danfoss Drives partner, Ralspeed, to devise a new control system that would incorporate both obstruction and end-of-lane detection.
“We started working with Ralspeed some time ago and, as luck would have it, they are based only half an hour away from us”, explained Chris Richardson, owner and Managing Director at Storth. “Together with Ralspeed, we were able to develop an efficient and cost-effective slurry system for cow houses that safely scrapes slurry into a channel, after which it is pumped into a storage and separation system. Ralspeed provided the know-how for the control panels as well supplying and installing the VACON 20 AC variable speed drives that are at the heart of the system.”
Ralspeed took advantage of the flexibility VACON 20 AC drives afford to devise a control panel that could be used equally well with chain and rope scrapers and offered useful additional features such as pre-programmable timing functions. VACON 20 drives are also fast to install and easy to set up, thanks to their easy-access terminals, DIN-rail mounting option and the parameter copying tool that can be used to clone settings without needing to power the drives.
“An important benefit of the VACON 20 drives in this application is that they can be configured to control four independent motors. That means we could control two scraping lanes from a single drive,” explained Neil Parsons, Technical Director at Ralspeed. “This enabled us to offer a very competitively priced solution that was complemented by the reliability and efficiency of the Danfoss drives. As a result, this control system has now been installed on hundreds of Storth scraper systems that are in use around the UK and overseas.”
“Our relationship with Ralspeed has given us the confidence to innovate and develop applications that deliver new benefits for our customers,” added Chris Richardson. “Ralspeed has been a very good partner and has always been ready to provide support whenever we have needed it. In addition, the Danfoss AC drives supplied by Ralspeed are exceedingly reliable and offer excellent performance. It’s true to say that our relationship with Ralspeed has gone from strength to strength as the years have passed.”