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Non-industrial drives sales take the lead

01 October, 2001

This year, for the first time, sales of electronic motor drives (EMDs) for non-industrial applications will overtake those of EMDs used in industry, according to a new study. The balance will continue to shift so that by 2005, non-industrial applications will account for almost 60% of the global EMD market, predicts California-based Drives Research Corporation (DRC).

In a wide-ranging 1,400-page survey*, DRC forecasts that the global market for EMDs of all types will expand from $12.5bn last year to $19.1bn by 2005, but suggests that the biggest growth will come in non-industrial applications such as domestic appliances, electric vehicles and marine propulsion.

Until now, industrial applications have represented the lion`s share of EMD sales and have been the main driver in the growth of the market. But over the coming five years, this sector is predicted to grow at a relatively weak 4.4% worldwide, despite near-double-digit growth in Asia, led by China.

The survey, which looks at all types of drive, foresees a particularly buoyant market for emerging technologies such as switched-reluctance, brushless AC and brushless DC drives, which it expects to record annual growth rates of 32%, 14% and 13% over the period to 2005. By the end of that year, these three technologies will account for almost a third of the global EMD market, DRC forecasts.

AC variable speed drives (VSDs) currently represent 53% of the total EMD business, but this sector has been suffering from falling revenue growth in recent years. However, DRC expects this sector to start picking up next year, due largely to growth in demand in the Asia-Pacific region and the emergence of new applications. Over the coming five years, the VSD market will grow by 8.6%, the report predicts.

"Technological advances, government mandates and globalisation are fostering new growth opportunities for EMDs that promise to reverse recent declines in revenue growth rates," DRC president Thomas Kaporch suggests.

He reports that there is "increasing concern that recent diminished growth rates are symptomatic of a saturated market - one that is being served by an industry based on a mature product technology".

But he contends that while this may be true for industrial markets in the developed countries, "advanced power semiconductors and improved control schemes and motor designs are making drives smaller, less costly, more efficient and more versatile, enabling an ever-wider range of applications".

He adds that with the present emphases on energy efficiency, automation, precision control and production flexibility, "it appears certain that the market for EMDs will continue to grow".

* Electronic Motor Drives 2001-2005. $3,950. Details from

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