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WEG buys its first European motor plant

01 June, 2002

WEG, the Brazilian motor-maker, has bought its first European factory – a plant near Porto in Portugal, previously owned by Efacec which made motors sold under the Universal brand. WEG will use the factory, which employs about 160 people, to produce medium voltage and special-purpose motors, such as flameproof models, particularly for the OEM market.

According to Gustavo Iensen, WEG`s export manager for Europe, the plant will give the company more flexibility to serve its European customers and help to reduce the three-week lead time for motors made in Brazil. The plant will manufacture motors in the range 37kW-20MW. WEG is still looking for a factory to mass-produce low voltage IEC motors for the European market, probably in Eastern Europe.

The acquisition was announced at the recent Drives & Controls Show in the Birmingham which WEG also used to launch its expansion into new fields for the UK, including variable-speed drives, soft-starters and low-voltage control devices. The company has been making these products in Brazil for some time but has now decided to sell them in the UK as well.

There are two families of drives. The smaller CFW-08 family caters for single-phase applications from 0.18-3.7kW and three-phase applications from 0.25-7.5kW. It offers voltage/frequency and sensorless vector operating modes, as well as S acceleration and deceleration ramps.

The larger CFW-09 family combines v/f, sensorless vector, and closed-loop vector operation in a single product that is available in ratings from 1.5-700kW. It incorporates an "optimal braking" facility for high-inertia loads that is claimed to eliminate the need for dynamic braking resistors in most applications, and to provide braking torques around five times better than DC braking systems. Options include various plug-in fieldbus modules, and a PC-based programming package for both drive families.

WEG`s Micro soft-starts are designed to offer simple, controlled starting and stopping, and protection, for motors in the range 0.55-55kW. The digital devices offer metering diagnostics, a built-in operator interface, pump controls and RS232 communications. There are 24 models in the range, offering 50Hz or 60Hz operation and a choice of 13 supply voltages from 220-575V. The compact starters are aimed, in particular, at OEMs, offering them reduced panel space and simplified wiring at a low price.

The third new area for WEG in the UK – LV controls – takes the company outside the motors arena for the first time. The company is the second-largest supplier of LV controls in Brazil (behind Siemens) and it hopes to repeat that success in Europe. Initially it will focus on motor protection applications, but will broaden into other areas and plans to appoint specialist distributors to cater for non-motor applications.

LV controls account for about 10% of WEG`s business, and sales in South America have been expanding by more than 20% a year. Harry Schmelzer, managing director of the control products operation, predicts that the controls business could one day be as large as WEG`s motors operation. The first LV devices will be available in the UK within three months.

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