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Is your motor-driven system future-proofed?

13 April 2020

Brian Bannister argues that, with technology moving forward so quickly today, manufacturers and designers should take the opportunity to incorporate components that can offer genuine ‘futureproofing’ qualities for years to come. 

From January 2021 the next phase of motor legislation enforces that, as a minimum, IE3 efficiency rated motors are used for all applications between 0.75kW and 1000kW with or without a drive.

Accordingly, machinery manufacturers are incorporating these motors into their equipment, as advised. As a result, however, there is a missed opportunity to build ‘future proofing’ characteristics into machinery – in respect of both energy efficiency and a possible reduction in the overall size and weight of machines – while also avoiding the need for possible future machine/system redesigns.

Today, however, there are already motors available that meet IE4 and IE5 energy efficiency specifications –some employ permanent magnet rare-earth technology that makes it possible to get more power from smaller motor frame sizes. Weight reductions can be as much as 50% over standard similarly rated units yet offer between three and four times greater power output than existing similar frame size motors.

n addition to the rare earth route, some manufacturers can also offer motors employing specially developed permanent magnet ferrite material that achieve similar energy, weight and frame size reductions. Depending upon the performance requirements of the application it is possible to source rotors where the magnets may be surface mounted (SMPM) or internally mounted (IPM).

Typically, IE4 and IE5 motors are offered as standalone units or with a ‘piggyback’ electric drive as integrated packages. Ideal applications include continuous duty work, such as fans, pumps, compressors and heavy-duty conveyors.

IE4 and IE5 developments have required motor manufacturers to draw upon their experience in various different motor technologies – employing rare earth magnets and  established technologies, such as servos, combined with an ability to adapt/modify motors to create customised end-user solutions.

Early adoption
With electric motors currently accounting for around 50% of the energy consumed in Europe, the early adoption of the IE4 and IE5 higher efficiency, permanent magnet motors could help accelerate the reduction in the use of electricity and cut the release of CO2 emissions, thereby helping to combat climate change in-line with UK Government environmental policies.

The major benefits to the user of these higher efficiency motors are the dramatic cost savings that are available and the comparable short payback times. According to the European Commission website, a more efficient motor can generate savings ranging from a few euros to several tens of thousands of euros over its lifetime, depending on its power and use pattern.

A typical example might be where an 18.5kW 4-pole IE1 motor is replaced by a similar power IE4 motor. If used for 5,000 hours per year, with an energy cost of €0.15 per kWh, the IE4 motor would give an annual saving of €386, thereby achieving a very short payback period. 

Brian Bannister is motor specialist at Lafert Electric Motors Ltd.

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