Motors & Drives: Energy savings predictor available through iTunes
Energy savings obtainable through the use of variable frequency drives (also called ac motor drives) is well-documented, and good machine builders, controls engineers and automation systems integrators have known the benefits of VFDs for some time. Now one supplier is taking this portion of the sustainable engineering message out to a wider audience in a novel way: through the pop culture website iTunes.com from Apple.
Variable frequency drives are electronic devices that control three-phase electric motor speed. They are used in building automation, industrial, pumping, agriculture, irrigation, and water/wastewater applications to control the speed of fans and pumps in various systems.
The simple-to-follow, five-step savings estimator from Yaskawa Electric America helps compare VFD performance to other methods of motor volume control (based on motor output or shaft horsepower).
Japan-based Yaskawa Electric Corp. is a global supplier of ac motor drives, servo motors, machine controllers, switches, and Motoman brand industrial robots. To bring Yaskawa drives to the attention of a larger audience, marketing communications manager Neil Koepke developed a mobile application that estimates energy savings when using a variable frequency drive instead of conventional volume control methods. The "$avings Predictor" application is now available on Apple iTunes for iPhone (OS 3.1.2 or later) and iPod touch.
The downloadable 5-step savings estimator is already available via Yaskawa’s website, and through Control Engineering ‘s Sustainable Engineering news feed . (Note: if you don’t have an iPhone but are interested in the savings estimator, an Excel version can be accessed here .)
Koepke works for Yaskawa Electric America Inc., in Waukegan, IL. For the iTunes application, "my target user is distribution, contractors, engineering consultants, building owners, and property managers," says Koepke. "I want them to know that the payback period for installing drives is usually less than three years, and can be less than one year."
Better known as a source of downloadable music, iTunes has expanded to offer more than the latest Taylor Swift single. Movies, TV shows, podcasts and more are now available through the Apple-owned service, all downloadable to computers, iPhones, and other digital devices. Koepke says he chose this medium to deliver an engineering message because "we wanted to be aggressive in online applications, and not many industrial automation companies are using iTunes. iTunes is nice since it can accommodate both iPhone and iPod Touch [devices]. iPhone is a common tool with major market share."
Yaskawa has been out in front with its use of social media marketing tactics, which include YouTube videos, LinkedIn groups, and a Twitter feed with 187 followers. "We are trying to increase our number of available widgets, calculators, etc. for our eMarketing efforts," says Koepke. "I am working on another savings predictor for iQpump – our intelligent pump controller."
Koepke says he has "not seen too many patterns where social media connects Yaskawa to receiving more purchase orders. However, we are trying to do more branding, and I feel social media is a key vehicle in widening the reach of our brand."
Also, social media allows Yaskawa engineering and marketing personnel to "listen more too," he says, which ultimately improves both the products and tools Yaskawa offers.
– Edited by Renee Robbins, senior editor
Control Engineering News Desk
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