October 05, 2018

Keeping waveforms in check



Whether a data centre is onshore or offshore, the universal electrical issue that affects them all is harmonics. Here, John Mitchell, global business development manager of supply, repair and field service specialist CP Automation explains the most effective way to mitigate harmful harmonics in a data centre. 

Associated with alternating current (AC) power lines, harmonics can infiltrate both the voltage and current of electricity. This results in costly and disruptive damage to the electrical distribution systems found in data centres and many other facilities. Let’s delve deeper into the issue.

For the best efficiency and performance in a data centre, the goal is to have voltage and current waveforms primarily consisting of the fundamental frequency, with minimal higher-order frequencies. Most utilities provide power with a reasonably smooth waveform, however, non-linear loads such as servers, variable frequency drives (VFDs) and other electrical devices can distort current and voltage waveforms.

These distortions are known as harmonics. These changes appear as supplemental frequencies higher than the fundamental frequency, which is 60 Hz in the U.S. and 50Hz in most other countries.

Harmonic currents are often exaggerated by the power supply units (PSUs) within the IT equipment itself, or by VFDs in cooling and ventilation equipment. Harmonic currents can then distort the voltage that is consumed by IT equipment, as the devices pull current distortion through an impedance.

Why harmonics matter
Minimising energy costs and maximising reliability are top priorities for most data centre operators, but harmonics make both these goals harder to achieve.

Arguably the most prolific concern about harmonics is the increased losses on the power system conductors and transformers, adding heat to the power chain that drives up power and cooling costs. This has a knock-on effect on capital expenses, as harmonics reduce the lifespan of electrical equipment. Because of this, businesses may need to purchase replacement devices prematurely.

Harmonics can also result in costly utility penalties, as energy companies must compensate for harmonic-related waste by deploying additional generating capacity. For this reason, and to discourage harmonic pollution, many utility providers penalise customers that exceed distortion limits as defined by the IEEE-519 standard.

While these power quality issues are generally understood in the technical community, less appreciated is the effect of harmonic currents on the overall efficiency of a data centre. Ultimately, harmonic currents are wasted energy that appear as heat. This means the amount of heat that must be removed from the data centre is increased — a common and highly-publicised issue for data centres.

The answer
While there are a range of options for mitigating harmonics, the right option depends on the data centre in question, the facility’s budget and the loads it supports. CP Automation recently helped one customer that was upgrading the cloud-based servers in a data centre in Middlesex, UK.  By assessing the data centre facility and evaluating the current power quality issues, the audit identified any issues that could arise from the upgrade.

After this assessment, it was clear the best option for this facility was an active filter. CP Automation then supplied and installed a Comsys ADF P300 active dynamic filter to alleviate any potential issues associated with harmonics.

Active harmonic filters are the most flexible solution on the market. They monitor the network and inject the necessary amount of compensation current at any given time, which restores current waveform and lowers current consumption. This makes them ideal for installations for applications in which current load changes constantly, as was the case with the data centre in Middlesex.


Line harmonics continue to be a costly issue for data centres, but fortunately, IT and facilities managers have access to a wide array of harmonic-mitigation technologies. If you’d like to discuss your own needs for harmonic filtering, contact the CP Automation team on +44 (0)1724 851 515.

July 20, 2018

Partnership sets the standard for surge protection


Industrial repair specialist CP Automation, has partnered with SineTamer to distribute surge and transient protection systems across Europe, the Middle East and Asia. The alliance will help manufacturers to decrease downtime caused by standard surge protection devices by mitigating transient surges caused by variable frequency drives (VFDs).

Transient surges are a change in fundamental frequency that occur thousands of times a day when using a VFD. Standard surge protection devices are voltage triggered only and do not account for these transient surges that can lead to confusion in electrical systems. Examples include false zero crossing, false triggering of diodes and timing issues.

“The SineTamer transient protection system will be the saving grace for many facilities managers,” explained John Mitchell, global business development manager at CP Automation.  “The sine wave has actually remained the same since the late 1800s. However, the sensitivity of the equipment that is connected to the grid is now much more sensitive. Therefore, businesses experiencing inexplicable downtime will benefit from eliminating these low-level switching transient events.”

"It is refreshing to encounter a progressive group of individuals that are truly interested in assisting clients in improving the profitability of their organizations,” said Jeff Edwards, CEO and founder of SineTamer.

"For too many years, investments made in process technology have failed to reach their promised results, through no fault of their own.  It’s simply been due to the electrical environments in which they were placed.  With Sinetamer and CP Automation, we look forward to protecting and preserving electronic infrastructure throughout EMEA.”

Some businesses have already made this investment. In fact, a plant manager at a packaging company was experiencing multiple electrical failures across seven plant areas related to programmable logic controllers (PLC) and power supplies. After implementing SineTamer, the failures decreased from an average of 55 per cent to zero. The improved production saved over $3 million in costs for the facility.

For more information on this new partnership, or the implications that this could have on your own facilities, e-mail sales@cpaltd.net for more information.

May 23, 2018

Harmonic filtering on board diamond mining vessel


Namibia in southwest Africa has 3,700 square miles of diamond concession at sea, which is expected to yield millions of carats of marine gemstones for the next five decades. To ensure the vessels carrying out this mining are equipped, supply, installation and repair specialist, CP Automation, helped mitigate harmful harmonics on onboard the prestigious Debmar Pacific diamond mining vessel.





Land-based diamonds in Namibia are expected to run out with the next decade. To avoid a shortage, the government of Namibia has been strengthening its offshore diamond mining capacity. In a joint venture between the Namibian government and De Beers Group, Debmarine Namibia, the country’s leading marine diamond mining company, was established in 2002.

The company operates five diamond mining vessels including the Debmar Pacific, which mines diamonds from the ocean floor using advanced drill technology.

Having been built in 1977, the Debmar Pacific was in urgent need of electrical system upgrading. Debmarine Namibia was having problems with a particular lighting circuit, in which several transformers were blowing due to suspected poor power quality supply. This is a classic symptom of an electrical circuit experiencing harmonic noise related problems.

Actom Energy, electrical engineering specialist in South Africa, was chosen to design, manufacture and install an active harmonic filter control panel to the vessel to alleviate this problem.

Actom needed to source a harmonic filter fast, and based on a recommendation from De Beers, called upon supply, installation and repair specialist, CP Automation. Using the information supplied by Actom and Deers, CP Automation advised the use of an ADF P100 active dynamic filter by Comsys.

Why are harmonics a problem?
This problem generally arises from the use of variable frequency drives (VFDs) and other non-linear loads. A load is considered non-linear if its impedance changes with the applied voltage. This change means the current drawn by the non-linear load will not be sinusoidal, even when it is connected to a sinusoidal voltage.

Non-sinusoidal loads contain harmonic currents that interact with the impedance of the power distribution system to create voltage distortion and power quality problems, which heat the transformer.  This explains why the previous transformers broke in the lighting circuit on the Debmar Pacific.

Harmonic filters — as the name suggests — remove harmonics. However, they also correct the phase of the fundamental currents, converting non-linear loads into linear ones. They cancel out the noise and keep the transformers cool and working efficiently.

 "We can’t stress enough how much of a positive impact the right harmonic filter can have on a company’s environmental performance, lowering energy consumption and improving productivity,” explained John Mitchell, business development manager at CP Automation. "With this in mind, we were confident the ADF P100 was a perfect match for Actom's project, and that it would put an end to the previous transformer issues."

The ADF P100 active dynamic filter also brings the added benefits of a high-power density while being relatively small in size, which makes it ideal for small and medium size applications where space is precious, such as onboard a mining vessel.

"We would certainly buy from CP Automation again," said Gregory Webb, instrumentation technician at Actom Energy. "Installing this filter was straight forward and engineer-friendly. It has continued to perform well since installation, as demonstrated by the lack of issues with the transformers in the lighting circuit, as we had seen before commissioning the harmonic filtering."

The Debmar Pacific continues its operation off the southern coast of Namibia. To add to this fleet, the De Beers Group has since confirmed that the construction of the world's largest diamond mining vessel has commenced and will begin operation in 2021.

This new vessel, along with the current Debmar fleet vessels, will make accessing the millions of carats of marine gemstones possible, with expert harmonic filtering onboard to ensure electrical systems are safe, trouble-free and long lasting.

Namibia’s land-based diamond excavation may be reaching its end, but now, the country is taking diamond exploration offshore. With these vessels, the country can continue reaping the rewards of its lucrative diamond mining industry, without the limits of the land — or disruptive harmonics.

March 28, 2018

Beyond the surge protection device



Around 25 per cent of the world's electrical energy is consumed by electric motors in industrial applications. However, as John Mitchell, global business development manager at supply, installation and repair specialist, CP Automation explains, installing variable frequency drives (VFDs) and surge protection devices (SPDs) are not the final steps in creating ultimate cost-efficiency.

A Variable Frequency Drive (VFD) controls the frequency and voltage supplied to an electric motor. By implementing VFDs, many businesses experience an increased bottom line due to increased efficiency and reduced energy costs. However, the VFD is not without its problems — its normal operation can cause negative effects.

Issues arise with VFDs due to power fluctuation. This could be caused by an anomalous event such as a lightning strike to the grid, or by lower level transient surges caused by VFDs countless times a day. These transient surges are a change in fundamental frequency in a microsecond time frame. If not accounted for, they can lead to confusion in electrical systems, such as false zero crossings, false triggering of diodes and timing issues.


A basic SPD may be used alongside a VFD to mitigate the damaging impact of high power surges, yet many users are still faced with unexplainable lockups, downtime and even some failures in surge protection cause by low level switching transient events.

This is because typical SPDs are voltage triggered only. Their clamping will only occur at a set point above or below the amplitude of the sine wave, and with therefore not act upon low level switching transient events.

While the sine wave had remained the same since the late 1800s, the sensitivity of the equipment that is connected to the grid is now much more sensitive. It's time to bring surge protection up to speed. It's clear that standard SPDs are not doing enough to protect valuable systems, whether this is in an elevator, factory conveyor or petroleum production equipment.

The next step is to eliminate these low level switching transient events. Using surge and transient protection systems such as the SineTamer, offers a new opportunity to protect valuable assets from the transient events that can occur millions of times per day. The frequency attenuation network of Sinetamer can do this because it monitors the frequency not just the voltage.

Some businesses have already made this investment. In fact, one plant manager at a packaging company was experiencing multiple electrical failures across seven plant areas related to programmable logic controllers (PLC) and power supplies. After implementing SineTamer, the failures decreased from an average of 55 per cent to zero. The improved production saved over $3 million.

CP Automation has partnered with the makers of SineTamer, Energy Control Systems, to supply this equipment across Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA).

“We are excited about the partnership that is developing between SineTamer and CP Automation for several reasons," Jeff Edwards, CEO and founder of Energy Control Systems. "Primarily it is refreshing to encounter a progressive group of individuals that are truly interested in assisting clients improve the profitability of their organizations.

"For too many years investments made in process technology have failed to reach their promised results, through no fault of their own.  It’s simply been due to the electrical environments in which they were placed.  With Sinetamer and CP Automation, we look forward to protecting and preserving electronic infrastructure reliability throughout EMEA”

If you are experiencing random downtime or would like to see a reduction in electronic maintenance, e-mail sales@cpaltd.net for a free consultation.

February 06, 2018

Reduce waste and increase production



We now supply SmartMotion web guide controllers from converting industry component manufacturer, RE-spa. The controllers improve feed accuracy and reduce waste for anyone winding, unwinding or printing on paper, aluminium, plastic or card.

The SmartMotion controller fuses drive technology with a stepper motor, reducing the amount of wiring and resulting in a single, compact device that can be incorporated into a new machine, or retrofitted to a machine already in use.

The motor is controlled to 1/128 step, to ensure the system is incredibly accurate, quick and almost silent. The high heat dissipation range of the controller also ensures a constant working temperature, which prevents the device from overheating.

“When operating a printing press in particular, if the web material is not aligned correctly you’re wasting production time and potentially creating unnecessary waste,” said Tony Young, director of CP Automation. “RE-spa web guides eliminate this problem. It uses a sensor to monitor whether the edge of the material is in line and automatically adjusts if not.

“People often consider automation as a large investment in robotics or artificial intelligence (AI). But, in truth, adding something simple like the SmartMotion controller improves the automated process and can save you time and money by reducing scrap material.”

The controller can be supported by a WLigo display, which has been developed to support applications where there are more than one web guide system installed in a facility. This means that plant managers can control and manage all parameters of a system from one remote controller.

RE-spa web guide systems are available from CP Automation, along with the full range of converting machine automation equipment from RE-spa. To find out more about the RE-spa range, call +44 (0)1724 851515 or email sales@cpaltd.net.
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January 30, 2018

Triple threat in materials handling


Bookmark and ShareSupply, installation and repair specialist, CP Automation, has joined forces with VASCAT, manufacturer of electric motors, and Magnetek, market leader of crane and hoist systems. Together, they are providing a complete package of motors, crane collision avoidance systems, radio control systems and power delivery systems for crane original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), to improve safety and performance. 

CP Automation is strengthening its already existing product family, having supplied EMC filters, line and motor chokes and braking resistors to the crane industry for many years. As the company continues to serve the market, its work with VASCAT and Magnetek provide further opportunity to take advantage of market growth.

"Our partnership with CP Automation has evolved over the years," said Jan Santaló, drives segment sales manager at VASCAT. "Alongside Magnetek, we are making it much easier for crane OEMs to source the components they require.

"VASCAT motors can be either used as part of modernisation projects or integrated into new crane designs. What sets us apart is that we customise our motors to suit the specific crane application, and we conduct the necessary validation tests to ensure safety and longevity."

CP Automation also supplies radio remote control systems in partnership with Magnetek. This complements the movement away from cab controlled cranes, where-by the operator sits in the crane guided by hand signals from a floor walker, to radio control systems that use a cordless unit to direct the crane. This means the operator is out of range of load swings and potential drop loads.

"The partnership brings together the right set of products to support the current rapid growth of the crane industry," explained Andy Swann, business development manager EMEA at Magnetek.

"We are seeing more and more crane OEMs moving away from in-cab operators and opting for radio remote control. This safe distance means much more aggressive materials can be handled during a project, as well as providing the freedom of movement to gain better visibility."

Magnetek also manufactures collision avoidance systems, power delivery systems and failsafe brakes for added safety functionality.

It you are a crane OEM, rebuilder, repairer or end user looking to source a collision avoidance system, radio remote control system or motor, you can call +44 (0) 1724 851515 to speak to a member of the technical team at CP Automation about both VASCAT and Magnetek components. 

December 18, 2017

New range of passive harmonic filters tested against claims


We have a new range of harmonic filters available, including the Revcon RHF-A and RHF-B. These filters are used to reduce the harmonic distortion caused by variable speed drives (VSD). To make sure the performance claims of these filters are valid, CP Automation analysed both filter models in a series of tests.  

VSDs make harmonic noise. This noise goes back to the transformer and affects the signal generated. This in turn distorts the voltage, leading to overheating of the entire system. Harmonic filters reduce this noise in the first instance, prolonging the life of all equipment.


CP Automation's new range of Revcon passive harmonic filters are easy to retrofit into existing applications, with no need for routine maintenance. Revcon states that the RHF-A and RHF-B reduce harmonic current distortion to 10 per cent and 5 per cent respectively. However, these figures have been cross referenced as part of a test with a standard 6-pulse VSD and DC choke.

Without a harmonic filter, findings showed the drive created a harmonic distortion of 36 per cent. Positively, the RHF-A reduced this harmonic distortion to 6.2 per cent at nominal operation.  Similarly, the RHF-B reduced the harmonic distortion to 2.5 per cent. Both performance values demonstrated far better results that the official stated values from Revcon. 
"It is important that we test such equipment against official data," explain John Mitchell, global business development manager at CP Automation. "It increases our customers' confidence in the products we supply, and ensures we see the true potential of products that often come with somewhat conservative claims."

To request your own copy of the report, e-mail john.mitchell@cpaltd.net. Equally if you are looking to install a passive harmonic filter to prolong the life of your system, CP Automation is available to supply and install this filter on location. For more information about CP Automation's catalogue of passive harmonic filters, visit www.cpaltd.net of call +44 (0) 1724 851515. 
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