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Smaller materials-handling companies `are still avoiding VSDs`

31 July, 2012

Many small and medium-sized companies in the European materials-handling industry are still opting for inefficient and inexpensive alternatives to variable speed drives – such as hydraulic equipment or gearboxes, which, according to the analyst, Frost & Sullivan "are almost ten times cheaper than drives".

In a new report, F&S says that the high initial cost of VSDs is still “a key challenge” to their market prospects, with the initial outlay to install a drive sometimes exceeding the cost of the motor.

“However,” says F&S industry analyst, Sivakumar Narayanaswamy, “end-users forget to take into consideration the ROI and payback period with drives, which is less than two years in most cases. In the past decade, drives prices have witnessed a significant fall, and the technology has been robust with continuous product innovations.”

Although awareness about the benefits of drives is “quite high” among OEMs and end-users in Western Europe, F&S reports that end-users in Eastern Europe “are still not completely aware of drives” and there is huge untapped potential in this region. It adds that efforts by manufacturers to emphasise the payback period and return on investment (ROI) from using drives are set to boost uptake levels in the region.

In its Strategic Analysis of the Electric Drives Market in the European Material Handling Industry study, F&S finds that the market earned revenues of €190m in 2010 and estimates this will reach more than €283m by 2017.

The study looks at AC, DC and servo drives and concludes that, with advancements in AC drives technology and its availability at lower cost for similar power rating applications, AC and servo drives are gaining popularity and are replacing traditional DC drives because of their better and easier motion control, higher efficiency and improved performance.
“Increased awareness among end-users and OEMs in the material-handling industry about the energy-saving potential of electric drives is improving their market penetration,” says Narayanaswamy. “AC and servo drives are gaining popularity and replacing DC drives in most materials-handling applications.”
Applications for drives technologies in the materials-handling market include loading, lifting and transport equipment. The report predicts that automated handling equipment – especially automated guided vehicles and robotics – will drive growth and sales in the market.

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