Market update: 'Decentralized drives' and 'motors with a built-in drive'

Like it or not, new technologies tend to be adopted earlier and faster in Europe than in North America.


Like it or not, new technologies tend to be adopted earlier and faster in Europe than in North America. We could debate why that is, but examples include the twin technologies of decentralized (distributed) drives and motors with a built-in drive (integrated motor drives). After stronger interest in European markets for a number of years, new data from IMS Research now suggest that "dynamic growth" is starting for these products in North America.

IMS Research sizes the North American market for decentralized drives and motors with a built-in drive at $15.4 million in 2003, but forecasts a growth of 43.4% for the period to 2007. The company terms "decentralized drives" as variable-speed drives located close to the motor, but not integrated onto the motor. For motors with a built-in drive alone, IMS Research puts the North American market at $13.7 million for 2003. Applications for that product had the following breakdown by industry sector in 2003.

Material handling


Food & beverage






Pump OEMs


Chemical & pharmaceutical




Motivation for the new growth comes from more user awareness and education about advantages available with these products, explains Alex West, IMS Research analyst and primary author of the associated report. "In fact, according to a survey of industrial automation users, over half of respondents not currently using this technology expected to start using within the next three years," he says.

Particular industry sectors are seen as market drivers for decentralized drives and motors with a built-in drive. Today, the primary application is in conveyors, an automation subsystem that cuts across food & beverage, automotive, and material handling sectors. "Indeed, 40.8% of customers interviewed indicated they are currently using motors with a built-in drive in conveyors," West adds.

Advantages most often cited for these twin technologies are inherently more flexible and modular implementation along with lower lifecycle costs—from savings in installation, cabling, and maintenance that offset an initial cost premium.

IMS Research is a specialist provider of market research on global electronics markets, located in Wellingborough, U.K., and Austin, Texas.

—Frank J. Bartos, executive editor, Control Engineering,

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