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Variable-speed drive sales ‘will hit $25bn by 2020’

10 March, 2016

The global market for variable-speed drives (VSDs) will expand at a CAGR of almost 8% in the period to 2020, by when it will be worth $25.3bn, according to a new report from Technavio. The analyst attributes the growth to the need to optimise manufacturing processes and to cut operating costs by monitoring energy consumption.

The report splits the global drives market into three main segments – AC, DC, and servo – and says that AC drives dominated the market in 2015, accounting for more than 84% of revenues. This dominance is expected to continue during the forecast period to 2020.

In terms of applications, the biggest use for AC drives is as pump controls. AC drives can reduce power consumption in industries with high capital and infrastructure expenditures, such as metals and mining, oil and gas, cement, paper, power generation, wind energy, water and waste water, and marine.

According to the report, the advantages of using VSDs include: energy savings in fan and pump applications; better process control and system regulation; improved speeding up or slowing down of machines; and decreased maintenance costs. They also offer power-factor correction, safe acceleration, protection against overload currents, and emergency bypass capabilities.

Fuji's Frenic-VG VSD: an example of an advanced drive, according to Technavio

“The need for industrial automation is one of the most important drivers that is positively impacting the growth of the global VSD market,” says Anju Ajaykumar, a lead analyst at Technavio for the tools and components sector. “Manufacturers are increasingly adopting automation to improve the quality, safety, productivity, and speed of various operations. Automation also helps them enhance market competitiveness and reduce costs.”

The Technavio report says that changing demand from end-users has prompted vendors to develop advanced drives. It cites Fuji Electric’s Frenic-VG drives as an example which use dual processors, doubling the processing power available to speed up the control algorithms. The drives have a 600Hz response speed – six times faster than Fuji’s previous models – and offer enhanced torque accuracy and speed control accuracy when using a pulse-generating card.

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