CD Automation

  1. Carbon Footprint - Our Company Initiative

    Did you know that over five billion trees are cut down every day so that we can have things such as furniture and toilet paper? That means that every two seconds, a forest the size of a football pitch is cut down for our material needs. Our planet desperately needs trees as they absorb carbon dioxide and other harmful gasses mankind creates, and in turn they produce the oxygen that we breathe. Just one large tree can absorb as much as 48 pounds of carbon dioxide per year and supply a day’s oxygen for a family of four! Trees are an essential part to our planet; they maintain our climate and contribute to the environment by improving air quality, conserving water, preserving soil and supporting wildlife. As a company, we have an aim to reduce the damage we all cause the planet. To do this, we have committed to plant a tree in the UK with every third order we receive. By doing this, we are compensating for our environmental impact, protecting wildlife and benefiting local communities, and our customers are helping us do it. We recently sponsored 20 trees to be planted at Langney Primary School in Eastbourne, a school local to us.  Sponsoring...
  2. Design matters

      When people think of shape and size design in engineering, they tend to think of people like Raymond Loewy, a 19th century American industrial designer who designed a wide variety of things such as sewing machines, the interior of Boeing aeroplanes, refrigerators and Coca Cola bottles.  They don’t generally think that power control units and the thyristors inside them are designed with their size and shape taken as an important consideration.  However, size and shape are very important when saving space saves money. Loewy’s designs tried to achieve the ultimate in aesthetics, ergonomics, functionality and usability.  At CD Automation, we don’t spend too long worrying about the aesthetics of our thyristors and power controllers but we do think it’s incredibly important to get functionality and usability of our units right and that includes the size and shape. As we’ve worked closely with our customers over the past 25 years or so, we realised what a major concern space was and we set ourselves to reducing the back panel footprint of our thyristors.  We did this because a smaller footprint saves cabinet space and, more importantly, minimises costs, because a smaller cabinet can be used to house the thyristor. Continue reading
  3. Is Gas or Electricity the Best Way to Heat an Industrial Oven?

      Opinions are divided on the issue of gas versus electricity when it comes to domestic ovens.  Many people favour gas because it’s cheaper and they find gas ovens easier to control.  Funnily enough, with industrial ovens, gas is still cheaper as a fuel type but these types of ovens are actually much harder to control especially in precision applications.  As the uses for industrial ovens are much more varied than with domestic ovens, the considerations to take into account when choosing between gas and electricity are more complicated. Cost Electric heating is much more efficient. Even with modern burners there is a certain amount of wastage with gas supplied to the burner through pipes etc. With electric heating, you only use the amount required.  Add to this the fact that electricity is much easier to control and it’s easy to see that electric industrial ovens can be more energy efficient than gas ones. Continue reading
  4. Thyristor Firing Types Explained

      When deciding which thyristor is best for your process, you will need to consider a number of factors such as the load amperage and type, but a major one is which firing type you need.  This sometimes confuses people as they think that thyristors just switch power on and off which is essentially true but at what phase of the cycle they do this can have a huge impact on their usage.  There are two main types: zero voltage crossover firing and non-zero voltage crossover firing.  Which one will be most appropriate for your operation will depend largely on what level of control you require, the type of load and heating elements and how much Radio Frequency Interference (RFI) you can tolerate. Zero Voltage Crossover Firing This type of thyristor only gates when the voltage across it is zero.  It stays on once triggered until the conducted current drops to zero which occurs naturally every ½ cycle in an AC waveform.  They have two firing types: ON/OFF and Time Proportioned on/off which is sometimes called Burst Firing. Continue reading
  5. An Introduction to Thyristors

    Often confused with transistors and sometimes referred to as silicon controlled rectifiers (SCRs), thyristors perform vital functions in AC and DC circuits and are used extensively in industry due to their robustness and reliability.  Thyristors were invented in 1957 but are still used today to switch electric currents ranging from a few milliamps at tens of volts to thousands of amps at thousands of volts.  At CD Automation, we supply a full range of thyristors for all kinds of applications. What is a Thyristor? Thyristors are made up of four layers of semiconductors, rather than three like a transistor, and the most common variety have three connectors like a transistor.  Current is controlled by a gate between the positive and negative terminals.  A small current at the gate triggers the larger current flowing between the terminals.  The gate can be switched on and off very quickly and there are no moving parts involved which gives the thyristor its robust qualities.  They can’t be used as amplifiers like transistors can but can control much higher electrical currents.  As they conduct current in one direction only, two need to be used back to back to work in AC circuits. Continue reading
  6. What are the benefits of using a motor soft starter?

    AC motors play a large part in producing pretty much everything. Starting them up is as easy as flicking a switch but what is the cost? Running these machines can be expensive in a variety of ways including the electricity bill, the maintenance and the production time lost due to downtime. Fortunately, using a motor soft starter can reduce these expenses by limiting the amount of energy expended when the machines start, lessening the stress on the mechanisms as they start up and reducing the strain on the electrics. AC Motor Soft starters provide all these benefits and cost around a quarter to a third less than a variable frequency drive. Energy Reduction Did you know that most of the electric motors used in manufacturing are fixed speed, fixed voltage AC induction motors and these consume up to two thirds of the total electricity used in industry? One of the reasons they use up so much energy is because they draw additional current at start up and, not only does the sudden influx of power put strain on the machine, much of the power is wasted. Using a soft starter prevents the motors from drawing excessive power at start up so reduces the overall amount of energy used, thus reducing companies’ energy bills. Continue reading
  7. Thyristor Controllers Speed Up Production for McLaren

    Improved controls for paint drying system drives sports car production forward Thyristor power controllers from CD Automation have been instrumental in significantly improving production efficiencies for Woking-based luxury sports car maker McLaren Automotive. From modest beginnings the organisation has grown into a world renowned and respected brand and a byword for advanced technological excellence, intelligence and attention to detail. Drawing on 50 years of racing success McLaren has created some of the most iconic and exhilarating high performance road cars the world has ever seen. Not surprising then that in the manufacture of its sports cars McLaren demands the very highest quality and reliability from every inch of its production line. When it experienced problems in the paint finishing section with a specific colour that was proving increasingly popular with customers, the company explored solutions that could be implemented in the shortest timeframe possible while providing longevity and consistency. McLaren’s supercar dubbed 'an F1 car for the road' The paint in question was taking much longer to dry than other shades and hence holding up the entire production line. When you are manufacturing cars that will set the customer back hundreds of thousands of pounds, this is a situation that...
  8. Electrical Noise – Something You Will NOT Want To Hear

    Electrical interference is a common issue in almost all industry applications. It is made from very high and very low frequencies that enter devices making them perform abnormally.  This article looks at the common symptoms that your processes might be presenting and also the solution to eliminating electrical noise. Electrical noise can plague your processes without you even realising it. This cloak and dagger mischief is created from harmful frequencies that can be produced from almost anything electrical, with most common sources being:  inverter motors, phase angle firing thyristor power controllers or by more everyday items like mobile phones or wireless communications. This production of interference can then be absorbed, radiated or conducted, then fed into electrical instruments. Some of the common symptoms you may notice in your process may be faulty sensor readings, flickering control screens, random system lock outs and alarms being suppressed. The worrying thing is some devices may not show visual signs of interference affecting them but inside they can be degrading and unproductive. Electrical interference effectively erodes the internal circuits and components of your electrical device that in turn can reduce efficiency and productivity. In time these devices may not function at all. With ambiguous...
  9. Solving The Thyristor Puzzle

    After analysing the questions our clients ask most frequently, we decided to put together a range of comprehensive graphics that explain the applications, features and benefits of some of our most popular products. The first on our list is the thyristor. To make the technology more accessible, we've created a friendly infographic. We're also preparing  a start-up cheat sheet for commissioning and installing thyristors. The UK manufacturing sector employs 2.6 million people and accounts for almost 50 per cent of the country’s exports. The complexity of manufacturing processes has significantly increased over the last decade, with technologies like intelligent automation, robotics and 3D printing putting extra pressure on manufacturers everywhere. Although new technologies have the potential to make manufacturing more lucrative and energy-efficient, older generations of electrical equipment are still at the very heart of the process and essential for those new concepts to operate effectively. One such example is thyristor power controller. “A thyristor is the most reliable control method when it comes to applications that use large amounts of electrical power,” explains Jez Watson, managing director of CD Automation UK. “The benefits of using a thyristor power controller go beyond reducing waste and energy usage. The equipment allows...
  10. De-geeking The Gobbledegook of Thyristor Control

    There may not seem to be much to associate the Teutonic deity Wotan with our experts here at CD Automation, but like Wotan’s ability to summon up a magic ring of fire, we’re experts on thyristor firing methods. To the uninitiated, these methods may seem like magical spells, but CD Automation has mastered them all, from zero crossing and phase angle to soft start with burst firing. We do our best de-geeking the entire gobbledegook of thyristor control for our customers world-wide. “CD Automation has been dealing with thyristor applications for 27 years, and in this time we’ve learnt how to tame the fire in this magical electronic device,” explains Jez Watson, managing director of CD Automation UK. “If you have peak current in the mains supply, you generate flicker depending on how strong the supply is. This manifests itself in both domestic and industrial applications as flickering lights. “If you start a large industrial motor, the lights will dim briefly because of the large peak inrush current. Preventing peaks on the mains supply can be achieved by using phase angle as a firing method for example.” Thyristor dimmers switch on at an adjustable time (phase angle) after the start...

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