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Will this motor-drive buck the trend?

01 April, 2004

Will this motor-drive buck the trend?

AEG Lafert believes it has cracked the problems that have restricted the success of integrated motor-drives so far. Although these combined systems have been available from various drives and motors manufacturers for several years, their sales have not been as high as many had hoped, despite their apparent advantages such as reduced cabling and EMC problems, and easy installation.

Now AEG Lafert is using a combination of marketing and technology to bring a new approach to the integrated motor-drive, which, it predicts, could result in sales of more than 50,000 of the combined systems within three years.

For a start, the company`s new Concert-Drive (above) will not be sold as an off-the-shelf, general-purpose drive. Instead, AEG will produce versions tailored to the needs of particular OEM customers, especially in the fan and pump industry. This will allow it to eliminate any extras that the customer does not need, and to narrow the price gap between the integrated systems and separate drives and motors.

In adopting this approach, AEG Lafert is building on its existing expertise in producing special machines for individual customers. Almost 40% of its motor sales are customised machines.

According to AEG`s Brian Bannister, many of the previous general-purpose motor-drives were over-engineered (or, in some cases, under-engineered). When they first appeared, he adds, the market was not ready for them and the technology was immature, leading to problems such as over-heating.

He believes that the market has now changed, especially with the emergence of multi-skilled personnel who understand both the mechanical and control aspects of the combined drive systems. In the past, motors tended to be specified by mechanical engineers who were not familiar with drive technology.

AEG Lafert has also been working on the technology. It has joined forces with Danfoss, which will be supplying the drives with special heatsinks that slot between the motor`s fins. As well as saving space, this means that air from the motor`s fan is drawn over the heatsink, cooling it and allowing smaller heatsinks to be used. There is also less need for external cooling at lower speeds.

Another innovation is to offer customers the choice of permanent magnet motors or conventional induction motors. The PM option results in smaller systems with higher efficiencies than Eff1 induction motors. For example, a 2.2kW PM design comes in a IEC 80 frame - two frame sizes smaller than the equivalent induction machine.

Initially, AEG Lafert is offering the Concert-Drive in three frame sizes, covering ratings from 0.75-2.2kW, but versions up to 4kW are being developed. Speeds up to 12,000 rpm will be possible.

A special variant does away with the speed control card, to produce a single-phase motor that can operate from a variable 100-240V, 1-50/60Hz supply. This version is said to deliver better starting torque than conventional AC motors.

The lead times for the customised motor-drives will typically be eight to ten weeks. Bannister reveals that AEG Lafert has already picked up an order from one UK customer for more than 800 of the Concert-Drives.




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