Q-Drive: The Forefront of Automation Technology in Gas Compression

The Haskel Q-Drive is a benchmark in the world of gas compression technology as the industry’s very first servo electrically driven gas booster system. Employing a wide variety of automation features such as advanced communication capabilities, a simple machine interface, and self-monitoring capabilities, the design of the Q-drive allows it to be a versatile work horse fit for future industry.

Operating on 380 - 480 Volt 3-phase power at either 50 or 60 Hz, the Q-Drive is able to compress gasses at an impressive 95% efficiency, making it even more efficient than its hydraulically driven counterpart, the H-drive. When in an idling state, it is able to save energy by dropping its power consumption to very low levels which reduces its overall cost of operation substantially. In terms of its ability to compress industrial gasses where maintaining a purity specification is key, the Q-Drive is able to maintain a 99.9999% purity spec.*

(*When O2 cleaned in Haskel’s cleanroom environment)

Controllability & Remote Monitoring

Over the last decade, industrial machinery the world over has tended towards the distant horizon that is machine automation; a place where manufacturing plants and global supply centers may exist in different cities, states, countries, or even continents. Today’s industrial machines are increasingly interconnected with each other in broad, complex networks that in turn are incorporating internet technology to report things like operational status, key performance indicators, and even process historical trends, with just a few clicks of a mouse. Understanding this trend has guided Haskel Engineers to develop the groundbreaking technology that is within the Q-Drive.

Machine Communication Capabilities

In terms of its ability to interact with other pieces of automation equipment, the Q-Drive features a suite of the latest communications protocols, including OPC UA, Modbus, Bacnet, Allen Bradley ABLogix, and Siemens S7, among others. These communications protocols allow for the efficient transfer of information from one machine to another, via an Ethernet connection. Development is currently under way to allow the Q-drive to be connected to various networks via wifi as well, opening the door to a wider array of applications, as well as simplifying the complexity of its setup and networking to end users. In the event that a simpler communication system is required, the Q-Drive can also be controlled using a 24Volt DC High/Low signal to start, stop, and pause the pump. This allows the system to be easily integrated in to established plant infrastructure.

Remote Monitoring Features

The advent of internet technology has changed the very nature of how factories the world over operate and make goods. Machines, robots, and advanced computational systems have made their way into production floors over the past thirty years and have automated some of the most challenging tasks imaginable. Despite this trend of automation, most of these plants still required the presence of a technician armed with a laptop, connector cables, and programming experience to plug into a physical device and address system performance issues, often times at all hours of the day. As many companies discovered during the pandemic, having to depend on the presence of these technicians often became a significant vulnerability in their ability to produce goods and services in a cost effective manner. To address this, the engineers at Haskel have developed features within the Q-Drive that allow it to be remotely monitored and controlled by properly authorized technicians in a secure manner without them ever having to set foot in the plant.

In the development of these remote access features, Haskel Engineers worked closely with a bevy of customers to identify requirements and functions that they wished to see in their gas compression systems. From this valuable feedback, Haskel was able to create a one-of a kind remote monitoring dashboard that allows authorized users to access important metrics like compressor outlet pressures, temperatures, cycle rate, and even a historical performance trend information that can be used to export data in a variety of formats for traceability and process monitoring purposes.

With the Q-Drive being a ‘smart’ compressor system, it has the ability to actively self-monitor its own performance and advise users on optimal servicing intervals. This is done by employing several key technologies in its design. Using a patented lubricant leak detection system, the Q-Drive is able to detect even the smallest leak within the system’s contained lubricant circuit, and reports a system fault when one is detected. If the leak is found to be severe, the system can shut itself off to prevent damage to the compression piston. In terms of managing the heat generated from compression, the Q-Drive utilizes a coolant circuit that is able to actively monitor system temperatures and can adjust its compression behavior to maintain safe operating temperature and still meet operational requirements. When the time comes to order service parts, users will be able to issue a quote request for these parts right from their Q-Drive remote dashboard, saving the costly, tedious act of regular system inspections.

In the event that the system encounters an error or unexpected problem in normal operation, users will be able view system alarm and fault codes, and acknowledge them remotely in addition to manually clearing them on the Q-Drive’s machine interface. As an added feature of convenience, users can also opt in for email and text notifications of these fault and alarm codes as well.

As with many modern automated systems, the Q-Drive comes standard with the ability to lock out any unauthorized users from making system changes.

Program Functions

The Q-Drive comes standard with three different pre-programmed functions; Compressor, Fill & Pause, and Fill & Stop. Each of these functions as well as function parameters can be accessed from the HMI screen on the unit as well as the remote system dashboard.

Compressor Mode is used for applications where a specified cycle rate and outlet pressure of gas are needed, similar to a more conventional compressor system. In this function, the user can define a desired outlet pressure and specify a dead band with up to 3% accuracy, that is, the when the compressor achieves the desired outlet pressure and stops cycling, how low the downstream pressure will need to drop to before the Q-Drive starts cycling again.

Fill & Pause Mode is used anytime a predefined fill volume and pressure is needed, and the system remains operating until those two conditions are met. Once the conditions are both met, the system pauses operation and enters idle mode, until a qualified user acknowledges that the operation is complete. At which point, the system leaves idle mode and continues operation. One such application where this mode could be used is to fill a pressure tank or bottle rack to a certain outlet pressure, and pause operations once the desired outlet conditions have been achieved, and an operator can then switch out the bottles or tank.

Fill & Stop Mode operates much like the Fil & Pause in that it is used to fill a certain volume to a specified pressure but once the final pressure and volume achieves, the system vents the residual pressure and shuts off.

Optional Accessories & Services

The Haskel Q-Drive is offered with a variety of additional optional accessories that can add functionality or services to the base system. For help selecting the right accessory for your Haskel Q-Drive unit, our system specialists and regional sales managers can gladly assist with breaking down the costs/benefits.

After Chiller Unit

All Q-Drives include a post compression heat exchanger and require a source of cooling water or other coolant. How much coolant is required will depend on the specific application needs and how cold the downstream gas process requires the gas to be. If the facility already has coolant available, it can probably be used on the Q-Drive. If there is no source of coolant at a facility, the Q-Drive can be ordered with a chiller. The Q-Drive Control will monitor the outlet gas temperate and adjust the system, including the coolant flow, to maintain the set temperature parameters.

Some gas pressurization applications may require that the high temperatures generated by gas compression be effectively brought down to operable temperatures, either due to safety, or due to sensitive downstream processes. The optional chiller for the Q-Drive can be used to further chill the compressed gas at the outlet of the system. This accessory adds the ability for users to specify the required outlet temperature of the process gas in addition to the desired outlet pressure and volume/cycle rate that the standard user programs provide.

Process Data Collection

System process traceability has become a critical part of the manufacturing process for many plants and factories the world over and has always been of vital importance to advanced research institutions. Many customers want to have the ability to know what a particular piece of equipment was doing at any particular time to understand its potential effects on products or sensitive processes. With this in mind, the engineers at Haskel have designed the Q-Drive to record values such as system temperature, pressure, and cycle rate information over time, which can easily be transcribed to a variety of different formats. One great application of this feature would be in the pressure testing of large volume objects- the Q-Drive’s high flow/high pressure capabilities make it ideally suited when filling pressure vessels of many shapes and sizes. With the process traceability feature, a detailed history of the pressurization sequence can be recorded and provided to end customers that may need it for regulatory approval.

Remote Access Assistance

In the event that factory support is needed to troubleshoot or work on a commissioned unit in the field, Haskel offers a remote access assistance service that allows a factory trained technician to log in to a Q-Drive unit and allows them to remotely access things like system operating conditions, system programming, and run diagnostics. Having access to this service, coupled with good maintenance practices can provide an extra level of defense against unplanned downtime on mission critical equipment and mitigates the risk to a business’s bottom line.

System Safety

As with any modern piece of industrial equipment, the Haskel Q-Drive comes with several safety features meant to keep the user and the equipment safe. Located on the front face of the unit, located next to the HMI display is the E-stop button. Should an emergency occur and the E-Stop is pressed, the gas compression systems stops, goes into a venting sequence, and then servo electric system will de-energize, all within a few seconds of being activated.

Oftentimes when working with high pressure gas systems it becomes necessary to safely purge or vent the pressurized vessels and lines in order to perform work or vent in the case of emergencies. The Q-Drive comes complete with vent and purge ports that can be plumbed to a safe location within the plant or building that it is being used in, mitigating the hazards of oxygen displacement. In terms of safety of operation, the Q-drive is designed with a 4 to 1 safety factor in terms of its pressure ratings, meaning that the system remains safe to work for any nearby operators.

Not only is the Q-Drive’s servo motor drive system innovative for its unparalleled control of gas compression, but it also allows for industry leading capability in terms of its operating noise. In operation, the Q-drive has shown to operate at or below 77 dBA. For perspective, a normal conversation volume is around 60 dBA, a lawnmower is around 100 dBA and the OSHA max exposure level is set at 90dBA.

 

The Q-Drive is another innovative example of why the world trusts Haskel to handle high pressure. To learn more about how this ground-breaking technology can help you reach your operational goals, contact us today: https://www.haskel.com/en-us/modals/request-a-quote

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