Manufacturing AUTOMATION

Space constraints are no issue for new drive technology

March 8, 2013
By Special to Manufacturing AUTOMATION

SAF Drives, Inc., based in Kitchener, Ont., had a problem. The space constraints of a naval ship for one of their customers required a smaller footprint contactor than what SAF was currently using. Can new technology eliminate this problem?

After viewing a demo trailer, SAF Drives, Inc. learned that the Eaton XT IEC contactor could be incorporated directly into a soft starter for a 1000HP 480V bow thruster. This compacted contactor would allow SAF to meet the space constraints on a 673-foot-long naval ship and eliminate additional installation costs.

SAF, one of North America’s leading manufacturers of drive solutions and solid-state starters, had been using a competitor’s products, but it had become dissatisfied with the manufacturer’s ability to provide products, technical assistance and inability to mount its product within a soft starter. Since the IEC contactor is a small footprint product with a high current rating, it met the application requirements.

SAF president Kedric Foster said, “We were able to incorporate the Eaton contactor, which is 30 percent smaller than any competitive offering, directly into the soft starter for increased space and cost savings. This was particularly important for this installation, because we needed to build a split cabinet design as the cabinets are actually disassembled into two sections on site allowing them to fit below the deck on the ship. Without this capability, major plumbing and construction costs would have been added to the project for retrofitting the ship with a larger entrance door for below deck access.”


Using the contactor for the application led to an estimated savings of $2,000 per installation for the soft starter alone. If SAF had used a different offering, it would have had to mount the contactor on the bottom of the breaker cabinet, which would have required additional bus work.

“On normal applications, we see a space savings of typically one cabinet size on enclosed soft starters with bypass,” Foster said. “For example, a 400HP 600V soft starter in a NEMA 12 cabinet with bypass would typically be installed in a 48 x 36 x 16-inch cabinet. With the integrated design, we are able to construct in a 36 x 30 x 16-inch cabinet.”

The contactor provides highly effective control for a variety of loads, including motors, inverters and UPS systems. Configured with vacuum technology above 580A and electronic coil interface design, the XT IEC contactor allows for efficient, safe and reliable switching at high amperage. Further, the three switching tubes and electromechanical drive system are arranged in an extremely compact design, making the XT IEC contactor a space-saving solution for multiple applications.

For more information on this solution, please call 877-ETN-CARE.

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