Integrated motors and drives: compact and solutions to power the European market

Paul Boughton
The European integrated motors and drives (IMD) market has recently recorded consistently high growth rates, except in 2009 when it was affected by the economic recession. During that year, the European IMD market witnessed greater decline in demand (about 14 per cent), compared to the global IMD market (about 13 per cent).

However, with numerous drivers and fewer addressable challenges, the European IMD market is ready to bounce back. Frost & Sullivan anticipates a cumulative annual growth rate of 12.1 per cent from 2010 to 2017.

New analysis from Frost & Sullivan, European Market for Integrated Motors and Drives, finds that the market earned revenues of $285.3 million in 2010 and estimates this to reach $632.8 million in 2017. The research covers AC, DC, servo and stepper integrated motors and drives.

“The demand for high efficiency, along with the need to reduce energy consumption, is set to attract investments in IMD solutions,” notes Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Ramasubramanian Natarajan. “Heightened knowledge about their potential benefits will extend the implementation of IMDs across an extensive range of industrial applications.”

IMDs are expected to gain preference over stand-alone motors and drives over the long-term. This, however, will depend on anticipated technological advancements in functionality and the availability of the technology at an affordable cost.

“The optimal compatibility of the variable frequency drive (VFD) with the motor in an IMD ensures efficient performance, with efficiency levels exceeding 90 per cent,” remarks Ramasubramanian. “This also makes IMD units easier to deploy than procuring motor and drive as two separate components and then combining them to achieve desired performance. It also reduces lag time and increases productivity.”

While these are positive signs, the immediate challenge for IMD manufacturers will be to scale down high initial costs and project product benefits more clearly to end-users. Another issue has been the technical inability, so far, to develop IMDs for higher power ratings.

“Due to technological limitations, above a certain point, the physical size of the product makes the integration of motor and drives lose its meaning,” explains Ramasubramanian. “While VFD solutions are in position to meet customer demands for higher power rating applications, IMD solutions are not perceived to be cost-effective at high power levels, thereby limiting the overall growth potential of the market.”

Technological advances and their availability across a range of power ratings will lead to the deeper penetration of IMDs into a wider range of applications. This, in turn, will boost customer acceptance of the technology. Competitive price levels will also contribute to encouraging demand for integrated motors and drives across key end-user industry segments.

“In order to compete effectively against low-cost imports, European IMD manufacturers can outsource the production of non-critical components to regions which offer low-cost labour and raw materials,” advises Ramasubramanian. “The final component can then be inspected and assembled by more skilled labour.”

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