Siemens: Industry Leader Speaks About Energy Management with Drive Systems

Posted: March 30, 2010 in Press Releases, Siemens General Motion Control
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Energy Management with Drives

The key is a process, not a product, with many factors contributing to energy efficiency.

What is the key to more energy efficient motion control?

While it is valid to state that energy efficiency is defined as the same level of production being achieved at an overall lower energy cost, it is equally important for today’s machine builders and automation engineers alike to remember than an energy-efficient system can actually translate into higher productivity.  This is achievable through a comprehensive approach to energy management.  Energy management is a process, rather than a product or series of products installed on a machine, or inline, to achieve a basic energy saving of kW hour consumption.

What are the essential elements and basis of the process?

First, energy monitoring systems must be in place to effectively determine the current consumption.  These can include, but are certainly not limited to, energy consumption displays, infeed/supply monitoring devices, power factor meters and more.  Next, the proper calculation tools are needed to properly evaluate the life cycle costs of any investment.  These tools can be as simple as a motor sizing chart or the software programs used to parameterize drives.  However, a more formal mechatronics protocol may be beneficial.  In this scenario, a thorough evaluation of both mechanical and electrical/electronic influences on a system, machine or process line is conducted.  The results can often open the eyes of machine designers, process engineers and system integrators alike.

What is the general approach to a mechatronics analysis?

This is where a competent supplier can be an effective partner.  For example, a solution might involve a vector drive that utilizes an energy optimization function to enhance the efficiency of the motor during partial load operations.  In a system with multiple motors, energy savings might be realized to a substantial degree by the use of a drive unit with a common DC bus.  The designer can also select the most appropriate infeed solution for the machine, pump or process operation, given the particulars of performance and required output.  This may include an appropriately sized infeed unit with regenerative capability, the ability to put unused or braking energy back on the incoming power line.

What are realistic goals for energy savings?

Some applications may allow the use of high efficiency standard induction motors and, in the process, realize a potential savings of 1-3%.  The use of frequency converters (VFD) for speed control might raise this to an 8-10% savings.

Optimizing an entire system through mechatronic analysis of the machine or process design, can result in a potential savings of 15-20% by the avoidance of over dimensioning of motors, plus partial load optimization by means of energy-related flow control.  This analysis may also point to the ability to use controlled energy infeed and recovery.

What technologies should be evaluated?

A corollary to this discussion should also include a review of potential hydraulic and pneumatic component change outs in certain applications where replacement with an integrated package of motion control and PLC technology might better resolve closed loop pressure control of axes, for example.  Fewer components and their related power consumption can lead to overall system productivity improvements, as well as ongoing enhanced energy efficiencies.

As the emergence of new technologies has impacted many of the products used in energy-efficient systems, it is equally important to take a more holistic look at operational sequences and the overall integration scheme when designing, retrofitting or rebuilding for improved energy utilization.

Michael Perlman is the Marketing Programs Manager for the Motion Control business of Siemens Industry, Inc.

For specific product information and inquiries, call (800) 879-8079 ext. Marketing Communications or send an e-mail to:


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