Rockwell’s New Armor Powerflex Variable Frequency Drive

May 03, 2022 by Shawn Dietrich

Rockwell recently announced the newest addition to the PowerFlex family of VFD units - the Armor PowerFlex series, designed for on-machine control with heightened IP ratings over previous models.

Rockwell Automation

Allen Bradley and Rockwell Automation are well known in the automation world, supplying both hardware and software for automating processes and machines. The PowerFlex component line from Allen Bradley and Rockwell Automation is an extensive line of low power variable frequency drives (VFDs). The PowerFlex drives are integrated into Rockwell’s Studio 5000 programming software and they typically use the Ethernet/IP industrial protocol, but with additional options for other network types. Recently, there has been an addition to the PowerFlex drive: the Armor PowerFlex drive.


Armor PowerFlex

Rockwell’s new Armor PowerFlex VFD. Image used courtesy of Rockwell


Armor PowerFlex Drive

The ongoing trend for industry is to reduce the size of the electrical cabinet for any automated machine or process. Moving some of the control components to the field is a concept called on-machine solutions, or on-machine control. When moving electrical components to the field or on the machine there are some key engineering changes that need to happen. No longer can you have screw terminals to contain conductors, and exposed electrical circuit boards. The armor PowerFlex drive is designed from the ground up to be placed directly on the factory floor, where maintenance staff can view and clear error codes, and less expensive cabling and cable ducts are required.

Armor PowerFlex Specifications

The Armor PowerFlex Drive is similar to other models in the PowerFlex family, but with the expectation that it is designed to be installed on the machine outside the electrical cabinet. The Armor drive comes in models that can power a 1-3 HP motor or 0.75-2.2 kW frame. At this time, only 3-phase power supply connections are provided, there is no input for 120 V 1-ph electrical supply.

Each drive comes equipped with an integrated keypad to set parameters when not connected to a PLC, dual port Ethernet/IP gigabit switch, embedded user inputs and outputs, feed-through 24 VDC aux power, diagnostic lights, embedded safety inputs and outputs (with the safety model), and a lockable disconnect.


Armor PowerFlex

Rockwell’s new Armor PowerFlex VFD. Image used courtesy of Rockwell


All connections to the drive, including communication, use standard quick connect M12 connectors that are typically found on motors and input and output cables. Power connections can also be made either through larger quick-connect (round or square) or a sealed cable gland. Control of the drive can be done through the integrated buttons on the front of the drive or through control logic using Rockwell’s Studio 5000 programming software. The Armor PowerFlex drive comes with IP ratings from IP54 up to IP66, making this VFD capable of being in a wash-down environment.


Moving electrical components from an enclosed electrical cabinet to an exposed position on the factory floor always presents many challenges. Variable frequency drives convert three-phase electrical power upwards of 208/230-480 VAC and around 15 amps. That is a lot of power to risk exposure outside an electrical enclosure. The Armor PowerFlex drive has many features to facilitate the integration anywhere on the machine including areas that will be frequently washed down. By having the drive located on the machine maintenance staff will be able to troubleshoot faster.

A great application would be to drive a motor for a conveyor. Some conveyors are only driven when required, for example, an off-load conveyor will run until parts reach the end of the conveyor at which point the conveyor will stop. This start and stop motion works well with a VFD because you can control the startup and stop speed easily.

By having drive controls located close to the conveyor and the ability to control the motor locally without a PLC using the integrated buttons on the drive, the end user saves both money and network real estate on the factory floor.