The Importance of Drive Migration

February 11, 2022

By Steve Studebaker

Do you have a 1336 or PowerFlex 700 Variable Frequency Drive in your facility? If so, trouble could be in your near future. Why? Because one is obsolete and difficult to repair, while the other will be soon. 

 The Allen-Bradley 1336 drive was state-of-the-art when introduced in the early nineties. It was the flagship drive product for Rockwell Automation until discontinued around 2010. Most of the 1336 drives in service today are approaching twenty years old- a lifetime in power electronics.  

The PowerFlex 700 was one of the first PowerFlex drives introduced and replaced the 1336 as the main mid-to-high horsepower drive in the product line. It is now in what is known as “Active Mature” status, which means it will soon be obsolete, and the price for new 700 drives has risen dramatically. 

The main roadblock to repairing these old drives is the same reason for their discontinuation. The board-level components in the 1336 are no longer available. It’s impractical to produce them in the small numbers required to refurbish the remaining drives that are still in service today. That means that if your 1336 goes down tomorrow, it’s unlikely that a fix is possible, and there is no new inventory to be had. In the case of the 700, the cost of manufacturing these drives using components available today is too high to maintain an inventory for sale at a reasonable cost. So, the price goes up.  

In either case, Rockwell Automation has a migration solution to prevent downtime: the PowerFlex 750 series. The general purpose 753, and the high performance 755, are capable of doing everything their predecessors did, and then some. In most cases, the 750 series is more compact than the older drives, making it relatively easy to drop into the existing footprint. There is even a 1336 adaptor plate for mounting the 750 using the same bolt holes. 

PowerFlex 755 AC Drives

For both the 1336 and 700 (and, for that matter, every drive in your facility), it would be wise to connect to your drive and make a copy of the program parameters. The 1336 uses DriveTools. The 700 and all current drives use the Connected Components Workbench. That way, if your drive does go down, you have a copy of the program to re-program the new drive.  Rockwell Automation has migration guides to make this whole process much less painful:

It can seem like an expensive undertaking to replace drives that are still running. But suppose they are in critical processes. In that case, you should weigh the immediate cost to the genuine possibility that a 20-year-old drive could fail at the worst possible time, causing lost production and expensive emergency services.   

At Buckles-Smith, we can help you choose the right drive and accessories, save your current programming, and even send Rockwell Automation Field Service to commission the replacement drive. 

Let us know how we can help you prevent an expensive downtime issue.  

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