Wednesday, 5 February 2014

John Guthrie, Energy Efficiency Manager, ABB writes: In the 70s, the arrival of variable-speed drives (VSDs) was greeted with much fanfare and was seen as innovative and ground-breaking technology to help optimise productivity.  At the time energy efficiency and reducing carbon footprint were not even on the agenda. The fascination with drives was simple; a productivity improvement one!

Most motor-driven applications could be more precisely controlled to give better speeds, torques or flow rates, manufacturing products quicker and with improved quality.

The late 1990s

Then came the price rise of crude oil between 1999 and 2008 - from around $16 a barrel to a peak of $147 a barrel - and it became apparent alternative ways were needed to reduce energy use. For the vast majority of today’s young engineers, that is exactly what a drive is for - saving energy.

A picture paints a thousand words: These innocuous grey boxes pack a powerful punch when it comes to energy efficiency and productivity improvements. Yet, it would appear, that the market is still slow to recognise what they look like, let alone their outstanding benefits.caption


Awareness among today’s engineers

Or is it? Each year ABB commissions a report into the energy efficiency understanding of UK business. While there is a gradual improvement in those willing to invest in drives, there still remains some 90 percent of installed motors that are not speed controlled. A further 95 percent of the 11 million motors installed in the UK are oversized. Savings of more than 50 percent can be achieved by the use of a drive on these applications.

Industry is simply not aware of the energy saving potential available with VSDs.  If the acceptance of the energy saving benefits of drives is low, how poor is the knowledge among young engineers of the productivity improvements such as lower maintenance, reduced waste and cutting downtime? Here we have a product that offers industry a double boost: instant energy savings and measurable productivity improvements.

There has never been a better time or more compelling reasons to use VSDs.

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