Motoring on

Hayley Everett

Rounding up the latest product and technology developments in motors and drives.

As the demand for increased automation continues to rise across almost all industrial sectors, the enabling automation technology must evolve to keep pace with these changes, and motors and drives are no exception. From smaller and custom motor designs to improved drive networking and connectivity, new and unique applications require continual innovation and development from motor and drive system developers. Let’s take a look at some of the latest technological advances from the sector.


Pitching itself as a pioneer in saving CO2 and material, Nord Drivesystems has exceeded the highest European standards efficiency class (IE5) with its new IE5+ synchronous motor. Designed to be both compact and energy efficient, the motor offers a constant high efficiency up to 93% and higher over a wide torque range, offering optimal energy performance in partial load and partial speed ranges.

Not only saving energy but also emissions, the IE5+ motor reduces emissions by around 0.15t CO2 per year when compared with a conventional IE3 asynchronous motor, according to a model calculation. In large systems comprised of hundreds or thousands of drives, this adds up to an impressive total saving. In addition, the motor is also hailed for its material efficiency, having been designed as a 9-role synchronous motor in an IPM design. This reduces the size of the motor’s active components, which not only results in material savings in the sheet metal package but also in the magnet material. With 8-pole synchronous motors, the stator can also be manufactured with the so-called single-tooth windings. As a result, valuable material such as copper is only used where it is actually productive, and inefficient use in the winding head is reduced.

“We were glad that we were able to significantly reduce the use of this material,” says Jörg Niermann, Nord Drivesystem’s Head of Marketing. “Various innovations in the motor design help us to realise significant material savings with our new IE5+ series. Our IE5+ synchronous motor combines energy efficiency with material efficiency and thus scores twice in terms of sustainability.”


On the drive side, industrial and electronic products supplier RS has launched a range of six ebm-papst drive development kits to help engineers to prototype and test new motor drive designs quickly and easily. The kits are pitched as ready for use ‘straight out of the box’ by engineers who are looking to switch from other motor technologies to brushless DC (BLDC) motors with integrated controllers.

Each kit includes a switch box which replaces a PLC and enables the engineer to set digital or analogue inputs. These inputs dictate the unique parameters for how the motor will operate in a specific application and can control the speed and position. Supported by an intuitive and extensive programming and evaluation software interface suite, the kits include a programming module that can be used to set up operating parameters and drive characteristics, enabling them to get up and running quickly. Additionally, engineers can benefit from a range of video tutorials, quick-start guide and full programming manual including 3D models, datasheets and drawings. RS is also offering a range of nine ‘bolt on’ motors and gearboxes, each offering a different drive solution, which are designed specifically for use in conjunction with the kits.


Motors and drives are often required to fulfil the needs of novel and unique applications, and this project involving KEB Automation is no exception. The automation specialist has supplied its servo motors and T6 APD and Combivert S6 drive controllers to the Monocab project – a driverless monorail cabin for up to eight people which will travel on a single rail. The uniqueness of this project – which is being undertaken by the OWL University of Applied sciences – is the goal of enabling two monocabs to travel at the same time in each direction, thanks to stability achieved by an innovative combination of actively-controlled gyroscopic systems with a moveable mass that balances the cab during travel.

“The control of the traction drives is handled by our modular inverter system, the T6 APD,” explains Daniel Schröder, Application Engineer for control technology at KEB. “The S6 inverters and the servo motors, on the other hand, are needed to support the stabilisation of the cabin.”

The T6 APD, a scalable and modular inverter system with integrated power electronics, was developed specifically for the automotive environment, Schröder adds: “Important in this application is a high protection class, vibration and shake resistance. As the vehicle is exposed to weather, durability and robustness play a major role, and the T6 fulfils exactly this.”

The system works by converting current from the HV-DC source into three-phase current for driving electric motors, and can be flexibly adapted to different requirements. The T6 APD enables the integration of up to six inverter modules, and supports all motor types such as synchronous and asynchronous motors.

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