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First NFC microdrive can be programmed inside its box

11 April, 2022

At the recent Drives & Controls Show in Birmingham, UK, Nidec Control Techniques unveiled a microdrive that it believes is the first in the world to provide programming, commissioning, diagnostics and other functions using a built-in NFC (near-field communications) capability.

The Commander S drive, which has taken three years to develop, comes in three frame sizes covering a power range of 0.18–4kW (0.25–5hp), in 100V and 200V single-phase versions, and 200V and 400V three-phase versions.

The built-in NFC works with an app called Marshal running on a smartphone or tablet that can be used to commission the drive in just 60 seconds, even when is still in its box with no power applied. The app can also be used:
• to clone parameters from one drive to another;
• to provide real-time diagnostics even when the drive is powered off;
• to provide step-by-step instructions will to help users to fix problems; and
• to share PDF files of wiring diagrams and drive configurations via email, WhatsApp or other messaging apps.

The Marshal app, which is available for Android or iOS, provides simple set-up routines tailored to specific applications. A FastStart menu provides assisted commissioning, with only four key settings being needed to get a motor running.

Control Techniques’ president, Tony Pickering, predicts that NFC will be a game-changer for the drives industry. “NFC is in all our lives, and we use it to make payments at a shop, for example,” he points out. “We knew this was the technology to go for, and we’ve adapted it for Commander S.”

Pickering believes that NFC will be “disruptive for the industry and change the whole customer experience, from installation to programming.” The app could replace the drive’s built-in display and keypad and Control Techniques may offer lower-cost versions of the Commander S without these functions. The company also plans to add NFC functions to other drives in its portfolio.

In the future, Pickering predicts, “keypads will only be used by people who do not understand how good this is”.

Linked by NFC: Control Techniques’ Commander S microdrive and Marshal app

The small-footprint Commander S drives offer click-on/off DIN-rail mounting, and can be mounted side-by-side in cabinets, saving costs and space. Laser-printed terminal designations simplify identification, while offset angled terminals make screw access and cable entry easy.

Conformal coating protects the drive against moisture and corrosion. Control Techniques is offering a five-year warranty on the Commander S, as it does with all of its general-purpose drives.

The drives are optimised for simple applications. Built-in functions include intelligent fan control, Modbus RTU, and a C1 EMC filter. They also meet the energy efficiency requirements of the EU Ecodesign regulation.

Pickering reveals that Control Techniques has already received an advance order for 1,000 of the new drives from a customer in the US.

• CT has been awarded an iF Design Award for the Commander S drive and Marshal app in the scheme’s industry/tools product category. The awards, started in 1954, this year attracted almost 11,000 entries from 57 countries. 

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Drives Show 2024The next Drives & Controls Exhibition will take place in Birmingham, UK, from 16-18 April, 2024. For more information on the event, visit the Show Web site


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