Tuesday, 10 September 2013

John Guthrie, Energy Efficiency Manager, ABB writes: A lot can change in 40 years – and a lot can stay the same as well.
 
One thing that has changed is the capability and efficiency of modern variable-speed drives, which are a world away from their forbears of 40 years ago. Sadly, one thing that has not changed for the better is the seeming reluctance of engineers to adopt these highly effective pieces of kit into their own processes.
 
The fact is variable-speed drives can improve productivity beyond recognition and slash energy bills – what’s not to like? Yet time and again I see engineers not getting the message and a staggering 90 percent of installed motors have no speed control.
 
Is it capital cost? Drives have come down in price dramatically over the years, so much so that they are now found in consumer products like washing machines. Payback time? Six months is not unknown for many applications.
 
Is it that most potential users are dazzled by other cost and energy saving techniques? This could be part of the problem - we found that for most engineers and energy managers, switching suppliers remains the number one method of cutting their energy costs.
Switching off unnecessary lights also remains popular and while this has a very visible effect, it is only the tip of the energy iceberg – most energy use is due to those thousands of uncontrolled motors and remains hidden below the surface.
 
So what can we do? What convinced you to go for variable-speed drives in your applications? Let me know and perhaps we can convince others to follow your lead.
 

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