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Motors, Drives

2019 Motor Drives Study research

Five trends on buying and, specifying motor drives for industrial automation applications.

By Amanda Pelliccione September 6, 2019
When evaluating any type of motor drive for an industrial application, automation professionals first look at reliability, followed by price, ease of setup/controls, programmability, customer service and support and the manufacturer’s reputation. Source: Control Engineering

Respondents to the Control Engineering 2019 Motor Drives study identified five key findings related to the purchase and specification of variable-speed, servo/stepper and medium-voltage drives for industrial automation applications:

Industrial drive use for automation 

Usage plan of motor drives for automation and industrial applications: Eighty-eight percent of respondents use or expect to use variable speed drives (VSDs) within the next 12 months; 46% use/plan to use servo drives and/or stepper drives and 17% use/plan to use medium voltage (MV) drives. 

Industrial drive applications for automation 

Applications of motor drives for automation and industrial applications (check all that apply): When specifying VSDs, 89% of applications are new, 74% are retrofit and 71% are replacement. The breakdown for servo/stepper drives is 87% new, 67% retrofit and 64% replacement. For MV drives: 89% new, 81% retrofit and 78% replacement. 

Industrial drive-drive purchasing for automation 

Purchasing motor drives for automation and industrial applications: Thirty-six percent of respondents prefer to buy motors and related VSDs separately; 22% prefer matched units. Regarding servo/stepper drives, only 12% prefer separate, and 60% look for matched units. For MV drives and Above NEMA motors: 30% prefer separate, and 19% favor matched units. 

Industrial drive spending plans for automation 

Expenditures on motor drives for automation and industrial applications: Over the past 12 months, respondents estimated an average of $139,000 having been spent on VSDs. For the same time frame, respondents also estimated average values of $94,000 for servo drives and /stepper drives and $620,000 for MV drives. 

Factors for selection of industrial drives for automation 

Important factors when choosing a motor drive for automation and industrial applications: The most critical qualities respondents look for when choosing a motor drive are frequent start/stop tolerance for VSDs (83%), accurate positioning for servo/stepper drives (97%) and frequent start/stop tolerance for MV drives (83%). 

Access the full 2019 Motor Drives Report to view additional findings.


Amanda Pelliccione
Author Bio: Amanda is the Research Director and Project Manager of Awards Programs for CFE Media and its publications.