In today's continuously running plastics plant, wired to the hilt with electronic controls, even a brief drop in electrical voltage can mean several hours of wasted time cleaning up and restarting machinery. Now a Wisconsin company, Soft Switching Technologies, says it has a solution: the Dynamic Sag Corrector. While it sounds like one of those infomercial exercise machines, Soft Switching Technologies says the DySC protects industrial equipment against voltage sags and brief power outages, caused by events such as lightning strikes or power systems faults.
"As automation becomes more common on the production floor, equipment is becoming much more sensitive to brief sags and outages," said Dale Hunt, manager of key accounts at Soft Switching, in Middleton, Wis.
Homeowners think of power outages as the lights going off for a half hour or so. But, as anyone who ever used a computer knows, it's the little problems, when the lights flicker, that really hurt. Soft Switching says that these brief electrical problems typically happen about once a month at U.S. manufacturing operations. Overall, very short power losses or voltage sags account for 92 percent of power quality problems, the firm said.
Hunt said that voltage sags — when the voltage drops abruptly, then returns to normal — are becoming more common as electric companies try to avoid shutting off the power completely when problems happen.
"Power quality also is becoming more of a concern as [electric] deregulation is coming," he said.
Currently, factories typically use two protection devices. Surge suppressors shield expensive machinery from sudden upward spikes in voltage. UPS devices (for uninterrupted power supply) use batteries to protect computers and other equipment from longer-term power outages.
Hunt said the Dynamic Sag Corrector falls between both those options. The DySC corrects for voltage sags of up to 50 percent depth for as long as two seconds. It protects against power outages for one-fifth of a second.
The DySC detects a voltage sag within one millisecond after it happens, according to the company. Through a patented technology called soft switching, the device sends missing voltage on to the machine until full power is restored.
Unlike UPS equipment, the Sag Corrector does not use a battery.
Soft Switching Technology was founded in 1995 by Deepak Divan, a former professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Divan now is SST's president and chief executive officer.
Hunt said SST initially approached power companies, and they led the company to plastics companies complaining of problems with power quality.
The DySC would pay for itself in eight months for a PVC fence maker that runs three extrusion lines and experiences 18 significant voltage sags or momentary losses of power in a year, the company claims.
Tel. (608) 836-6552, fax (608) 836-6553.