AC drives critical to operation of PDQ vehicle wash systems

With $24 billion spent a year to repair automobile corrosive damage and International Car Wash recommendations to wash cars at once or twice a month to avoid environmental paint damage, ABB Low Voltage Drives excited about contract with world's largest maker of touch-free vehicle wash systems. New ABB ACS350 drive to provide increased durability, functionality, to PDQ of De Pere, WI, with filtration of electromagnetic interference built-in. It ensures maximum uptime in extreme environments...

New ABB ACS350 drive to provide increased durability, functionality, to leading car wash manufacturer with filtration of electromagnetic interference built-in. Ensure maximum uptime in extreme environments around the world.

NEW BERLIN, WI, Nov. 22, 2006 -- According to the International Carwash Association (ICA), Americans spend more than $24 billion a year to repair automobile corrosive damage. The ICA recommends that consumers wash their cars at least once or twice a month to avoid environmental paint damage.

PDQ, the world's largest manufacturer of touch-free vehicle wash systems, is named after the qualities it stands for: Performance, Dependability and Quality. Founded in 1984 in De Pere, WI, PDQ was the first company to invent a robotic arch that closely follows the contours and shape of any vehicle, pioneering the way for touch-free, car-wash technology.

A vital part of PDQ's state-of-the-art LaserWash 4000 and LaserWash M5 vehicle washes is the motor drive that controls the washer components mounted on an overhead frame -- called the bridge, trolley and arch sections. When PDQ was looking for a reliable drive that would both weather harsh environmental conditions, and perform well in its unattended carwashes, the company found what they were looking for in ABB and its extensive line of AC drives. ABB has been supplying drives to PDQ for more than five years. Currently, the ACS140 is being used on the LaserWash 4000 and LaserWash M5 vehicle wash systems. And the next generation ABB ACS350 drive is now in field-testing on the LaserWash M5.

The drive controls the speed of three different motors that operate the washer on the overhead gantry. The first motor, rated at 1.3 HP, operates the bridge and is responsible for moving the apparatus from the front to the back of the vehicle. A second motor, rated at .5 HP, is used to move the trolley, which sprays a column of foam or water from left to right. And the third motor, rated at .75 HP, moves the arch, which rotates on a 90-degree axis, to ensure that water is sprayed at the vehicle at all times throughout the cycle.

According to Ken Dollhopf, vice president of research and development at PDQ, all of the components need to work together in precision to provide an effective, efficient touch-free process. The drive also is responsible for ensuring that each motor runs at a specific time during the operation. Because the motor applications are unique, specific profiles are needed. Two sets of parameters are programmed into the drive -- one for the bridge motor, and one for the trolley and the arch.

In support of the lean manufacturing process at PDQ, when ABB drives arrive at the company, they already are pre-programmed and ready to be installed. The drives then are placed in electrical enclosure cabinets during the sub-assembly process.

Dollhopf says this pre-programming is an important feature for PDQ: "Our assemblers don't have to unpackage the drive or power it up; they can just plug it in. All the parameters are there. It's very simple and efficient."

ABB ( is a leader in power and automation technologies that enable utility and industry customers to improve performance while lowering environmental impact. The ABB Group of companies operates in around 100 countries and employs about 107,000 people.


Also see:
-- "ABB wins $130 million refinery order in Poland for desulphurization systems: Grupa Lotos S.A. contract in Gdansk part of $1.3 billion upgrade"
-- "New DC drive technology debuts in leading U.S. paper mill retrofit"
-- "ABB's Ultra-low Harmonic Drive earns double gold in "Product of the Year Award" (POY) poll of CSE subscribers"


More in Environmental