Four tips to select a dimensioned and efficient drive system

January 31, 2019 // By Andrew Guest
Electric motors are the unsung hero of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, bringing to life anything from robots to 3D printers. Unfortunately, they are not unbreakable and, when they do fail, can bring an entire production line to a halt.

They are also a huge consumer of energy, using nearly half of all the electricity generated in Europe. The good news is that, with energy efficiency breaking new records and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) enabling predictive maintenance, it is now possible to improve the performance of both motors and the machines they power. It’s all about selecting the correct motors and the other key components of a properly-dimensioned, efficient and safe drive system.

  

Tip 1 – Remember: size matters

From electric cars to drones and cobots, reducing weight and footprint without compromising power is what many engineers currently strive for. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, the demand for smaller and lighter yet powerful motors – with a high power-to-weight ratio – is growing. Clearly, size matters when selecting a drive system meaning that all its components, from motors down to variable speed drives (VSDs), servo drives and actuators, need to be correctly dimensioned both in terms of size and power.

Compact solutions that come in a variety of power options while keeping footprint to a minimum can come in handy. Omron’s new S1 servo drive range, for example, come in a very compact design: the height stays the same no matter the power. Pilz’s PMDs range of relays offers set, small dimensions - 87x22.5x122mm (H x W x D) - for all operating voltages, helping save space in the control cabinet without compromising on power. In those applications where actuators are required, size should also be taken into account. For example, SMC’s new JCQ series of compact cylinders are up to 40% smaller (in terms of volume) and up to 45% lighter than previous models in the same bore size.

 

Tip 2 – Take efficiency to a whole new level

Selecting energy-efficient motors is not only a matter of compliance with the Ecodesign Regulations 640/2009 and 4/2014, which require all motors with a rated output of 0,75-375 kW to reach at least the IE3 efficiency level (or IE2 if combined with a VSD). It can also slash energy consumption and Total Cost of Ownership for end users while giving machine builders a unique selling point.

So how can better efficiency be achieved? Looking at a motor’s efficiency rating and/or combining it with a VSD is the obvious answer, but there are also other important factors to consider. For example, Trinamic’s new full mechatronic solution, which combines a stepper motor and driver electronics, comes with load-adaptive automatic current scaling. By enabling the motor to adapt the required current to the load, this functionality can help reduce energy consumption by up to 75%. This in turn helps keep the system cooler, extends the motor’s life and reduces cost.

Components such as overload relays can also play a key role in boosting energy efficiency. Siemens’ Sirius range, for example, automatically switches off when a motor is idling (for example when a pump is idling) and also features reactive power compensation thanks to its power factor-monitoring function.


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