Top engineers from Baldor Electric, rated in polls of engineers worldwide as an industry leader, recently cited some of the major technical trends they see around the world.
John Peeples, Baldor's Munich-based VP of International, says "most engineers in Europe and Asia are looking for better performance" in the machines they design. That means faster speeds, more flexibility, more built-in motion, and better control.
Peeples adds that his customers prefer more compact motor and control packages because of the higher costs of industrial real estate in Europe and Asia. Saving space promotes more centralized controls solutions, using PLCs and Windows-based PCs. Networked applications, using Ethernet, SERCOS, and other digital links, also are growing.
"Applications are getting more complex," says Peeples, "yet we need to provide products that are easy to operate."
One example of a global Baldor product designed to meet that need is the new MintDrive, which includes set-up wizard, power supply, logic supply, brushless servo control, and motion controller.
Jim McCormick, Baldor's chief applications engineer in the U.S., believes his customers are more worried about costs than are engineers in Europe. That is boosting sales of Baldor's Super-E premium energy-efficient motors.
The desire for greater accuracy and control, especially in semiconductor manufacturing, machine tools, and medical devices, also is spawning more demand for linear motors on both sides of the Atlantic. "In three years, we are going to be shocked by the growth in linear motors," says Peeples.
McCormick predicts the development of more motors featuring built-in sensors and other diagnostics to warn of wear, temperature, or vibration problems that lead to bearing failure and other problems. "Many customers view motors as a critical component. They can't afford downtime."
Also, look for motion control to become more prevalent in heavy-duty operations. McCormick cites the use of variable-speed drives to control 300-hp motors that pump water for secondary and tertiary recovery in oil fields.
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