Installation of Soft Starters Solves Motor Torque Problem at New Pharma Plant

MSC was performing startup and commissioning of chillers and cooling towers at a new pharmaceutical plant in central New Jersey. Upon initial startup of three 75-HP condenser water pumps, the sudden influx of energy caused pump volutes, manifolds, and piping to violently heave upward by about 4-inches, sending alarmed workers running from the mechanical room. MSC immediately recognized the cause of the problem and recommended a solution: installation of motor soft starters.

When a motor is started, an inrush of current can cause sudden torque that can be three times higher than running torque. Soft starters, also known as reduced voltage soft starters (RVSS), protect equipment from damage at startup by gradually ramping up voltage to reduce mechanical and electrical stresses on the motor and shaft that can reduce lifespan. They are commonly used in cooling towers, large circulation pumps, and constant-speed fans.

MSC recommended a specific soft starter appropriate for the application to electrical contractor, who quickly installed them and set a 90-second ramp time. With very little time lost, MSC returned to resume startup and commissioning, completing the process without a hitch.