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Vacon`s new drive targets the volume market

01 May, 2002

Vacon, the Finnish drives-maker, is expanding into the low-end, volume sector of the drives business for the first time. It has also set up a new company to apply its know-how to other areas of technology.

At the recent Hanover Fair, Vacon unveiled its new "light" industrial drive, aimed at OEM users and at applications such as heating and ventilation. The modular NXL drive is based on the same platform as Vacon`s more sophisticated products and shares the same I/O and fieldbus boards, HMI and programming software.

Initially, the NXL - which makes its UK debut at this month`s Drives & Controls show - will cover ratings from 0.25-2.2kW, but this will be expanded later to reach 30kW.

The drive has been designed for sale though the wholesale distribution market and Vacon hopes to win some brand-labelling business. It already labels some of its larger drives for customers including Cutler-Hammer, Honeywell and Trend.

Vacon president Veijo Karppinen says that Vacon could not afford to ignore the bottom end of the inverter market because it represents a quarter of the market and is the fastest-growing part of the business. As with its other products, Vacon does not aim to be the cheapest supplier, but will be offering reliability and flexibility.

Karppinen claims that Vacon is maintaining its position as "the fastest-growing company in the inverter business". Its sales last year of €90.3m (£55.5m) were 40% up on 2000 and its EBIT (Earnings Before Interest and Tax) was around 12.5%. Karppinen describes this as "a good result in this tough business".

He adds that it is difficult setting targets in the current climate, but Vacon is hoping for 20-30% of growth this year. Its long-term operating profit target is 12.5%.

Karppinen, who has been Vacon`s president since it was founded in 1993, is stepping sideways later this year to head a new operation, Vacon New Technologies, which will look at exploiting Vacon`s know-how in other areas including power quality systems and renewable energy technologies such as wind turbines.

Karppinen will be succeeded in July by Vesa Laisi who worked for several years for ABB`s drives operation..

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