Nord Drivesystems installed in Chronopost´s parcel hub | Automation.com

Nord Drivesystems installed in Chronopost´s parcel hub

Nord Drivesystems installed in Chronopost´s parcel hub
November 11, 2011 - More than 1000 Nord Drivesystems geared motors with decentralised inverters have been installed in Chronopost´s main European hub, to the south of Paris. They are a crucial component in the sorting centre which handles an average of 170,000 parcels a day, each needing to be identified and sent to the correct loading bay in less than 3 minutes.

Specialising in the delivery of express parcels, Chronopost employs more than 3500 people across the world. The Chilly Mazarin hub, to the south of Paris, is the heart of the Chronopost network. It is one of the top performing express sorting centres in Europe, with a maximum capacity of 30,000 parcels/hour. More than 60% of Chronopost´s French parcel traffic is handled there. Every day, 500 crates containing parcels of all kinds are delivered by lorry to the unloading bays. On average, this represents 170,000 parcels needing to be identified, sorted and dispatched to the correct loading bay. The annual peak comes during the Christmas period, with 300,000 parcels to be processed. Each parcel has a maximum weight of 30 kg, with sizes ranging from 10x100x40 mm up to 1200x800x1000 mm for the largest ones.

Use of the space within the building is fully optimised. With huge amounts of technology packed into its 13,000 m², the hub has 34 unloading and 83 loading bays. It has an automated two-level sorting system, with two sorters each running a length of 650 m. Parcel barcodes are read automatically on 5 sides by digital cameras. More than 1100 Budde conveyors transport the parcels through the hub. The Nord Drivesystems geared motors are being used to drive these conveyors, either via bevel gear or worm gear mechanisms. They are all fitted with “SK” type decentralised inverters, mounted directly on the geared motor casing. “The solution proposed by Nord, which consists of decentralising control of each motor to the motor itself, has two advantages. Firstly, there are space savings. It does away with the very large electronic control cabinets, which we would have struggled to accommodate. The wiring inherent in these cabinets also disappears, along with its associated size constraints and snagging risks,” says Mr Fouquet, Servicing and Maintenance Manager at the Chilly-Mazarin and Roissy hubs.

The geared motor inverter communicates via a Profibus fieldbus with a PLC (Programmable Logic Controller), which then sends the information on to the control centre. Correct control and synchronisation of the Nord Drivesystems is a key requirement, because each parcel must be processed, i.e. identified and directed to the correct loading bay, in less than 3 minutes. Each parcel is registered at the beginning of the line and tracked step by step along the sorting chain. There are up to three feed points for a single conveyor line, which was a world first for Chronopost when the hub went live. Similarly, a single sorter can have up to four feed points. If a backlog is registered at a particular loading bay, it is even possible to slow the chain so that the conveyors then serve as a storage centre, thus avoiding a “log jam.”

Nord Drivesystems´ SK200E inverter range has been designed for mounting directly on the motor terminal box, producing fully integrated drive units. They have a number of basic functions, such as open-loop vector flow control, an integral brake chopper and an electromagnetic brake control. They also incorporate the processing of signals from an incremental or absolute encoder, and an integral "POSICON" axis positioning function.

“We only want Nord Drivesystems on this hub. Quite apart from the technical quality, we´re particularly pleased with the flexibility and service their teams provide. It´s very easy to get through to a technical engineer, and whenever we have a problem or a query, they can be here in under 48 hours. Even though it is very rare for a geared motor to break down, we have a permanent stock of replacement parts so that we can immediately change any defective unit,” adds Mr Fouquet.

The goals for 2011 are particularly ambitious, as the aim is to increase to an average of 200,000 parcels a day, which is a 20% increase. To achieve this, the building will have to be extended. This will allow the packaging sorting and compacting equipment to be removed from the actual hub itself. The additional space made available will make it possible to free up the loading bays and increase throughput.

Company background
NORD was founded in 1965 to develop, produce, and market drive technology. As an industry leader ranking # 2 in US & Canada and # 2 as the Global Leader, NORD reaches nearly all markets. With 2400 employees and 35 assembly factories worldwide, sales and support is available in 60+ countries. This ensures short delivery times and services close to you. NORD supplies application-specific concepts and solutions; including but not limited to energy-saving drives. NORD provides wide range of products to meet your needs; such as gearboxes with torque ratings from 8.5 lb-in to 1,770,000 lb-in and electric motors with power ratings from 1/6 HP to 250 HP. In addition, the product line consists of high performance AC Vector Drives and AC Drives for panel mount or distributed motor mount.
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