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An induction motor connected directly to the power supply draws a constant magnetizing current at full speed, no matter what the load is. At anything less than full load, power factor of the induction motor is less than its rated power factor because the torque producing current decreases as the load decreases, but the magnetizing current does not change. The lighter the load, worse the power factor. Motors selected from a standard range are almost always chosen with a rated power in excess of maximum load demand, with the result that in any installation the motors seldom operate at their full rated load. Consequently, they can never achieve their rated power factor even at a maximum load demand. More over, if the load is variable. The wastage of energy is worse Electrical energy supply tariffs for industrial users almost invariably carry a heavy penalty i.e.; higher cost per unit- for consumption at low power factors. Further, the cost charged is increased if demand exceeds a maximum limit. The AC induction motor with a permanently coupled load, when it is operated without the benefit of a soft-starter draws a high starting current. Typically, more than 7 times its rated full load current. Reduced voltage-starting decreases the demand. A Soft-starter makes use of this principle. The mechanical shock delivered to the rotor or to couplings or to any intermediate gearing and the driven load by a high starting current is most severe when the motor is started directon-line. Even reduced voltage starting devices like the star delta starter or Auto transformer starters still impose shock loads because of the very current peaks which cause severe transient torques at the moments of intermediate switching. The effect of such repeated shocks is to decrease the life of the motor and increase the cost of maintenance.

The Flux compensated magnetic amplifier (FCMA) Soft-starter essentially consists of predominantly inductive impedance in series with the motor windings to control the motor current through a potential divider.

Finally when the motor has reached full speed and the motor terminal voltage has reached around 90-96% a shorting device cuts the Mag Amps out of the motor circuit and the motor runs under normal operating conditions.

Constructionally the Flux compensated magnetic amplifier is an extremely rugged device comprising of magnetic core and amply sized power windings. It should be emphasized that there is no external control loop on the system and impedance variation is the natural characteristic of the system achieved through suitable winding design and geometry. This leads to 100% reliability of the operation.

Conventionally the magnetic amplifiers have been equated with saturable core reactors, which work on the principle of superimposition of magnetic fluxes in the additive mode thereby saturating the magnetic core & varying the impedance .These have found limited usage in alternating current circuits because they require D.C. excitation & generate a heavy percentage of harmonics in the current waveform due to core saturation. The Flux compensated magnetic amplifier (FCMA) is an antithesis of the saturable core reactor. The FCMA works on the principle of flux opposition instead of flux addition & hence operate always in the linear nonsaturable zone of the magnetic circuit.Oppposing flux linkages are impressed on the same magnetic circuit, thus reducing total flux & hence reducing the impedance. Total flux linkage = main flux linkage opposition flux linkage N I = N1*I1 N2*I2 The system is designed to provide a predetermined constant current in the motor windings in the starting zone. The main flux is generated by the current in the motor winding and the opposing flux is generated by the counter emf of the motor as the motor speed increases. The net flux thus reduces, allowing the motor voltage to rise gradually form as low as 50% to 96% while keeping the current within the prefixed limit, thus efforting a smooth start. In fact the reduced start current allows closer calibration of the protective relays. The FCMA Soft-starter achieves this through a unique system of flux compensated non saturated magnetic amplifier for controlling the motor current and hence the motor torque during acceleration.

1. Fastest payback period. 2. Avoids fluid hammer. 3. Easy to install. 4. In built protection. 5. Designed for extreme operating conditions. 6. Programmable current and torque limits. 7. Programmable acceleration and deceleration ramps. 8. Two set point current limits. 9. Instantaneous protections.


A Soft-starter normally operates in three distinct stages. Ramp. Dwell period. Energy Optimizing. These operating stages are as shown in figure.

THE RAMP STAGE: A. For Open loop Configuration: From the instant that the start command is given, the system first imposes a fixed delay (3 to 300/500 ms) for self monitoring, and then causes a voltage to be applied to the motor terminals to achieve the break-away torque. This is the pedestal voltage in the figure. This voltage is then ramped up linearly providing a step less increase of motor terminal voltage from the pedestal upto the maximum voltage. At the end of the ramp period the motor terminal voltage is equal to the input power supply voltage. As a standard the pedestal voltage is 40% of the supply voltage. This can however be changed to suit desired applications. The current drawn by any motor accelerating from the rest

position in an open loop configuration depends upon the selected ramp. Shorter the ramp time, greater the peak starting current. Why choose one ramp time rather than another? For every motor and driven load system, there is a natural ramp at which the acceleration of the load and the motor matches the rate of increase of the output voltage of the soft starter. Selecting a short time will increase the rate of acceleration and the starting current drawn; a longer time will prolong the time before the load reaches the full speed, and will reduce the starting current. This may be an advantage depending upon the particular application and perhaps on what is convenient for matching with related process equipment.

B.Closed loop Configuration: This configuration of the Soft-starter is used in applications where the driven load has a particularly high inertia else it is difficult to start. For example, in a stir application where the medium is glutinous and stiff at the beginning of the process. The acceleration time of such loads is apt to lag behind the rate of rate increase of ramp voltage even if a long ramp time is chosen. With such loads it may however be necessary to select short ramp time to ensure sufficient starting torque. A short ramp will raise the voltage quickly but the nature of the load prevents the motor speed matching it. The result may be excess current demand.

This problem is over come by a current limit feature which stops the ramp when the current output reaches a pre-selected limit. The ramp is then held until the current falls naturally. The current limiting feature is active only during the ramp period of the soft start sequence. Closed loop control requires continuous measurement and feed back of the current delivered to the motor terminals by using a CT. THE DWELL PERIOD: The dwell period begins when the output voltage reaches maximum and this period is equal to the selected ramp time, approximately equal to 10 seconds. The dwell period maintains a constant voltage at maximum to allow the time for the motor and its driven load to settle to a steady state after acceleration is complete and before the Soft-starter automatically enters the energy optimizing mode. THE ENERGY OPTIMIZING STAGE: The energy optimizing stage is the normal operating condition of the Soft-starter when the motor is up to rated speed and driving the load at whatever torque output is demanded. The energy optimizing stage is continuous after the dwell period until a stop command is given. During the ramp period the system computes a reference value of the power factor. For energy optimizing this value is continuously compared with the running power factor. From the comparator output the system continuously computes, adjusts and updates the firing points of the thryistors so that the total energy delivered to motor corresponds to the load torque demand without wasting energy in overfluxing the motor. The power factor at the supply terminals is in this way maintained at the highest possible value for every condition of the load demand. Management of the power factor in no way detracts from the capability of the motor to respond to the load demand .The motor performance is unaffected. This feature of the Soft-starter is a purely electric function which has the effect of ensuring that at all times the motor delivers the torque demanded, but is allowed to draw only the precise amount of magnetizing current required to support the torque output. Without this feature, the motor would draw a maximum magnetizing current regardless of the load. The effect of the energy optimizing function is a cumulative economy in energy consumption.


This is a unique feature of the Soft-starter. Its effect is to prevent an undesirably sudden deceleration of the load. It is useful in various mechanical handling and conveyor systems and in many hydraulic pumping operations where a sudden removal of the drive input can induce undesirable effects, such as the fluid hammer in the pipelines. The soft stop ramp operates to reduce the motor terminal voltage down to 40% of maximum, at which time, the thyristors are disabled. The motor and load will coast to standstill.

SELECTION AND DESIGN: The FCMA soft starters are closely matched with the drive requirement and hence
the following data helps correct, selection and design. 1) Motor rating in Kw. 2) Supply voltage 3) Torque Vs speed curve of driven machine reflected to the motor shaft during starting 4) Torque Vs speed curve of motor. 5) Current Vs speed curve of the motor. 6) GD^2 of motor. 7) GD^2of load, coupling & transmission reflected on the motor shaft.

8) Capacity of supply transformer and base load. 9) Starting time limitations if any. It will be apt to compare the FCMA soft starter with the thyristorised soft start of a few counts. . Mode of control :a) FCMA impedance control. b) Thyristorised voltage control through phase angle control. . Control philosophy :) FCMA no imposed control loop, hence 100% repeatability. ) Thyristorised imposed control loop. . Line current wave form :a) FCMA -pure sinusoid wave form. b) Thyristorised generation of considerable harmonics due to phase angle control. . Effect on associated equipment :a) FCMA nil. b) Thyristorisedlarge harmonics can lead to failure of power capacitance or interference with electronic controls. . Connection scheme :a) FCMA either on line side or neutral side of motor winding. b) Thyristorised - necessarily line side. F. Cost:a) FCMA highly cost effective. b) Thyristorised very costly.


Acceleration time comparison (secs)

Starting current comparison (speed %)

Starting torque comparison (speed %).


Soft starter

Auto transformer starter

A. Operational differences: Easy starting-by a push button. Similar method of starting. Motor starts without any jerks i.e. smoothly Motor is subjected to heavy jerks during and gradually picks up to the synchronous starting and a bit later because of the sudden speed. The life of the motor is thus increased inrush of current .This causes severe damages significantly and the maintenance problems to the motor winding which ultimately burn are drastically reduced. off. The valve on the delivery side need not be operated while switching the motor ON or This is mandatory on both occasions i.e. ON OFF. or OFF. Soft starting and soft stopping avoids back Such a protection is not provided and thrust on the NRV or the pipe line which is therefore, proper operation of the valves is therefore protected against the back thrust absolutely essential. during switching OFF. No electrical moving contacts and no oil Circuitry consists of several moving parts hence no sparking and hazards. and hence sparking is unavoidable. No limitations on the No. of starts and No. Limited No of starts and stops per hour of stops per hour. because of: motor windings getting heated. Acceleration time for motor to speed up from Such a facility is not available with rest to rated full speed can be adjustable from conventional timers used in this method of 2secs to 90secs. This will facilitate selection starting. of appropriate ramp times to suit the desired load/torque requirements. In rush (starting) current restricted to 200% Inrush current restricted to maximum of of rated full load current (FLC). 400% of the FLC. B.Protections Phase reversal, single phasing, overload, Phase reversal and short circuit protections

Over voltage, under voltage and short circuit not available. are available. Current limit facility is available which This facility is not available. limits the current drawn by the motor plus the load to a desired safe value. C.Economics Approximately Rs. 15000/- to Rs. Energy saving not achieved. 50000/- per annum, per equipment is saved by virtue of energy saving. The exact amount of energy saved depends upon the loading conditions. Provision for power factor By using this the power factor can be improvement not available. improved by .05 which will cost further saving & will also avoid KEB penalties. This method of starting is prone to all Reduction of maintenance costs on these problems occurring very frequently and account of hence involves tremendous expenses on o No necessity of transformer oil maintenance o No moving parts present (like contactors, relays etc.). o Motor fully protected and hence no rewinding costs. Down time too large. Minimum down time

Soft-starters are used on high tension motors for the following advantageous features: 1. Smooth starting by torque control for gradual acceleration of the drive system thus preventing jerks and extending the life of mechanical components. 2. Reduction in starting current to achieve break-away, and to hold back the current during acceleration, to prevent mechanical, electrical, thermal weakening of the electrical equipment such as motors, cables, transformers & switch gear. 3. Enhancement of motor starting duty by reducing the temperature rise in stator windings and supply transformer. 4. The microprocessor version of the Soft-starter has a soft ware controlled response at full speed which economizes energy, what ever may be the load. Because of the tendency to over specify the motor rated power, this feature has benefits for most installations- not only those where load is variable. 5. The power factor improvement is a self monitoring in built feature. When the motor is running at less than full load, the comparative reactive component of current drawn by the motor is unnecessarily high due to magnetizing and associated losses. Hence the voltage dependent losses are minimized with the load proportional active current component and as a result the power factor also improves simultaneously.

Steel industries (Rolling mills and processing lines). Cement industries.

Sugar plants Paper and pulp. Rubber and plastic. Textile industries. Machine tool applications. Power sector. Water supply scheme. And various process control applications.



MOTOR DETAILS Make BHEL Rated out put (KW) -1575 Kw Supply voltage -6.6 kV If l 159 Amps. PERFORMANCE ACHIEVED With H.T. Soft start, the starting current is reduced to 3-3.5 times the full load current and Motor attains its full speed within 15 seconds.


APPLICATION Equipment cooling water pump. MOTOR DETAILS Make GEC Motor speed 743 rpm Rated output (KW) -1310Kw Motor speed 743 rpm Supply voltage 6.6 kV Motor GD2 710 Kg.m2 Load GD2 160 Kg.m2 If l 156 Amp.

PERFORMANCE ACHIEVED With H.T. Soft start, the starting current is reduced to 3-3.5 times the full load current and Motor attains its full speed within 13 seconds.

CLIENT-USHA ISPAT, Redi. CONSULTANT- MECON, RANCHI. APPLICATION Compressor. Make Atlas copco MOTOR DETAILS Make BHEL, Bhopal Rated output (KW) -1200Kw Motor speed 743 rpm Supply voltage 6.6 kV PERFORMANCE ACHIEVED With H.T. Soft start, the starting current is reduced to 3-3.5 times the full load current and Motor attains its full speed within 10 seconds. Motor GD2 108 Kg.m2 If l 122Amp.

CLIENT-NMDC, DONIMALAI APPLICATION Centrifugal water pump MOTOR DETAILS Rated output (KW)-150Kw Supply voltage 3.3 kV PERFORMANCE ACHIEVED With H.T. Soft start, the starting current is reduced to 33.5 times the full load current and Motor attains its full speed within 10 seconds. If l 32 Amps.

The starting performance of the squirrel cage induction motors using Softstarters provides valuable economics of electrical energy .Optimum benefits are gained when a motor duty involves frequent start or stop cycles but is still likely to be worth while in systems which are in continuous operation. The word Soft-starter has almost become synonymous to conventional starters.

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