Drives & Controls Magazine May 2023

Rising energy prices are a major headache for all of us, and they show no sign of returning to “normal” any time soon. Upgrading to the latest motor technologies can help to dramatically cut your bills right now, and help to insure against market volatility in the future, as ABB’s Dave Blissett explains. Across the UK, many are baulking at the cost of their electricity and gas bills, and industrial enterprises are no different. For many companies trading conditions were already challenging, and a substantial hike in energy prices is the last thing that most of us need. For energy-intensive industries such as water or food & beverage, energy can comprise a large proportion of outgoings, and so reducing usage wherever possible is vital to ensure maximum profitability. Electric motors form the backbone of much of the UK’s industrial operations, and along with variable speed drive (VSD) systems account for 60 percent of the electricity demand within the sector. As such, ensuring that your motors are as energy efficient as possible can help to build operational resilience, and insulate – at least up to a point – against future energy price rises and volatility. The easiest way to cut energy costs is simply to use less of it. Energy costs can constitute a large proportion of TOTEX policy expenditure, dwarfing the initial purchase price of today’s more efficient motors. The latest generation of synchronous reluctance (SynRM) motors and VSD packages can achieve significant savings without compromising on performance and reliability. Moreover, as the price of energy gets higher, this magnifies these savings, resulting in much faster payback times (often within a matter of months) and an improved return on investment. Synchronous reluctance motors are also highly reliable and easy to maintain. Improving the efficiency of motors even by a few percent can save huge amounts of energy, particularly when extrapolated to an installed base of dozens or even hundreds. Over the past decade, motor and drive technology has progressed significantly. Indeed, as recently as a decade ago, the idea of IE5 efficiency was considered largely hypothetical, and yet the latest generation of ABB SynRM and VSD packages are now achieving unprecedented energy savings. Compared to an equivalent IE2 motor, a SynRM achieves 50 percent lower losses, while also providing superior performance and reliability, as well as significantly lower energy consumption and CO2 emissions. Recent increases in energy costs has also, inadvertently, made the case for ultra-premium efficiency even more compelling. The more the cost of energy increases, the faster the payback time is for a motor. Upgrading the motor to a higher level of efficiency compounds this benefit, with investment often recouped within a matter of months. SynRMs are also highly reliable and easy to maintain, helping to contribute towards operational resilience. SynRMs run more quietly than other motor types, and with a lower operating temperature, helping to prolong the life of bearings while reducing regreasing intervals. Unlike a permanent magnet motor, ABB’s SynRM contains no rare earth minerals, and has no traditional rotor windings or permanent magnets. Consequently, a SynRM requires no specialist skills to maintain beyond that of a conventional induction motor. Furthermore, repairing an old IE2 motor still leaves you with an IE2 motor level of efficiency. The performance of the motor will potentially decrease with every repair, with the risk of failure growing as the motor ages, leading to a much higher TOTEX cost compared to an equivalent new IE5 package. Fitting a VSD to an existing motor, or upgrading to an ultra-premium efficiency SynRM and VSD package, can save significant amounts money even in normal times. In the midst of an energy and cost of living crisis, this the potential for savings is set to increase even further. Now might well be the perfect time to look at how new motor technologies can help to improve resilience, and significantly reduce operating costs. ABB will be hosting a series of webinars covering the benefits of high efficiency SynRM and drive technology in a range of industries. The first, “SynRM: Reducing operating costs of motor-driven food and beverage applications”, takes place on 11th May at 1400 BST. The not-so-secret weapon for tackling rising energy bills CORPORATE PROFILE To register your attendance visit: SynRM_FoodAndBev_2023_DandC