Medium-voltage motors, generally classified as those within a power range of 75 kW to 25 MW, serve a broad variety of markets. They are used in applications that require good power but even better efficiency and cost savings. They might be open drip proof, enclosed and fan cooled, or weather-protected type I and II. They are often highly customizable and remain an important part of the global electric motors market, which was recently forecast by Transparency Research to reach $120.7 billion by 2019.
While medium-voltage motors are used in a broad assortment of industries, the major growth in the next five years will be in oil and gas, largely due to hydraulic fracturing operations, according a recent report by TechNavio called the Global Medium Voltage Motors Market 2014-2019. The oil and gas and power industries will combine for a hefty 45 percent of the global medium-voltage motors market, and new oil and gas investments worldwide will increase demand. There has been a positive trend in the power industry, which is concentrating more on efficient processes for generation, transmission, and distribution and turning to medium-voltage motors to improve operations.
Geographically, North America and China are the largest buyers of medium-voltage motors, though the report predicts that business from other nations engaging in oil exploration, such as Brazil and Russia, will push demand up. The APAC (Asia-Pacific) region currently accounts for about 40 percent of the market, largely due to new investments in the oil and gas, power, and mining industries.
The global market, however, is being driven by more than just worldwide energy production. TechNavio found that energy efficiency is the prime focus for all end-user segments. With government bodies implementing and enforcing regulations and certifications to reduce energy consumption in process equipment, end users are having to make changes in their existing infrastructure.
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"Manufacturers of medium-voltage motors are concentrating on developing equipment that consumes less power, even for high-speed applications," Tech Navio research analyst Bharath K told Design News. "The market participants are also concentrating on incorporating energy management systems in motors at the control center level. This will have a positive influence over the end-users' operational expenditure and increase the output of the industry. Market participants are also concentrating on implementation of direct compressor coupling with motors so that there is an extended increase in the energy efficiency of the motors."
Motors in this market segment are also becoming smarter and more networked. Implementation of communications gateways between interface devices is yielding a variety of benefits, including supervision and data capture in real time, which helps companies get a better grip on predictive and planned maintenance activities within their plants and facilities.
"Intelligent motor control centers are the next level of controlling systems that are implemented along with the medium-voltage motors in most of the end-user segments," said Bharath K. "The control centers offer real-time monitoring and control of the entire system for ease of production and management decisions."
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Tracey Schelmetic graduated from Fairfield University in Fairfield, Conn. and began her long career as a technology and science writer and editor at Appleton & Lange, the now-defunct medical publishing arm of Simon & Schuster. Later, as the editorial director of telecom trade journal Customer Interaction Solutions (today Customer magazine) she became a well-recognized voice in the contact center industry. Today, she is a freelance writer specializing in manufacturing and technology, telecommunications, and enterprise software.