Market trend fractional-horsepower AC motors

Paul Boughton

Rising energy prices and increasing awareness among end users and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) about energy efficiency are favouring the prospects of efficient fractional-horsepower (FHP) motors. As the alternating current (AC) FHP motor market is price-sensitive, FHP motor manufacturers are trying to differentiate themselves by offering integrated products and value-added services. Although the financial crisis has had a negative impact on the AC FHP motors market, demand is poised to rise due to certain re-initiated projects in the recovering economies in Europe and increased investments in the Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries.

New analysis from Frost & Sullivan, 'Strategic Analysis of the European AC Fractional Horsepower (FHP) Motors Market,' finds that the market earned revenues of $1.45billion in 2009 and estimates this will reach $1.82billion by 2016. The technologies covered in this research are single-phase and poly-phase AC motors.
Frost & Sullivan research analyst Sahitya Yerramreddy comments: "A major shift towards energy-efficient products and integrated motor-drive solutions will boost demand for AC FHP motors in Europe over the next seven years. With the global economy showing signs of recovery and enhanced industrial and consumer confidence, expansion projects are expected to be re-initiated in all the major end user segments, thereby enhancing growth prospects for AC FHP motor manufacturers."
As the maintenance, operating and energy costs of AC FHP motors contribute to a major share of the total lifecycle costs, customers are shifting their focus towards products that offer better energy savings. Poly-phase AC FHP motors with inverters are gaining significance, as they are more efficient compared to the single-phase AC FHP motors.
Yerramreddy adds: "OEMs and end users are replacing standard, low-efficiency shaded-pole and permanent split capacitor (PSC) motors with poly-phase AC FHP motors. Further, declining inverter prices along with advancements in power electronics are spurring the adoption rate of poly-phase AC FHP motors."
The growing prominence of alternative technologies remains a key challenge. For instance, replacing the standard AC induction FHP motors, such as shaded-pole motors, with brushless DC (BLDC) motors has become a trend in the heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration, domestic appliances and business equipment segments.
With increasing raw material prices, FHP motor manufacturers are also looking for alternatives to cut costs. BLDC motors appear to be the best option, as it benefits both motor manufacturers and OEMs; this is because they use about 60 per cent of the copper used by AC induction FHP motor and are more efficient. Additionally, BLDC motors use permanent magnets and electronic commutation, thereby reducing the electricity costs by one-third to one-half, as compared to that of an AC induction FHP motor.
Yerramreddy continues: "Many AC FHP manufacturers are shifting their manufacturing bases from Western Europe to CEE to reduce their production costs by leveraging the low-cost labour advantage, and to cater to the increased automation needs of the CEE countries. Further, heavy investments being made in infrastructure, expansion of industrial and production bases and other discrete industries, where FHP motors are an integral part, are luring AC FHP motor manufacturers."
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