A seminal piece of legislation mandating minimum electric motor efficiency levels is scheduled to come into force across the EU in June 2011. It has enormous implications for machinery OEMs, with potentially serious consequences to sales and market share if attention is not paid immediately, says Baldor. The situation is made even more problematic by the USA’s EISA minimum efficiency regulations, which came into force in December 2010.
From feedback at exhibitions and from calls and visits Baldor believes that as much as a third of the EU’s OEMs are still either wholly or partially unaware that new general-purpose AC motors installed from June must meet a minimum efficiency of IE2. IE2 is equivalent to the previous CEMEP ‘EFF1’ standard.
Most OEMs currently use lower-efficiency EFF3- or EFF2- grade AC motors. Transitioning equipment designs with higher efficiency motors can involve physical and mechanical interface changes, changes to rotational speeds, and changes to thermal issues and starting behavior. These issues can have a big impact for equipment OEMs, and they might need weeks or even three months or more to make the upgrade.
“We’re sending an SOS message to European OEMs that if they do not start considering the impact of motor efficiency regulations immediately, then there could be negative implications for their sales and market share,” says Robin Cowley, Industrial Marketing Manager for Baldor in the EU. “And when OEMs think about the upgrade to IE2 efficiency levels, we are also suggesting that they consider their strategy for the IE3 efficiency level that’s coming down the track because if they don’t, their competitors might – and steal a march.”
Energy costs: A main concern
Most end users of automation are becoming seriously worried about their energy costs. Many are also currently putting strong environmental care plans into place. Given this market situation, Robin Cowley thinks that OEMs who start to offer the best efficiency levels available – IE3 – could see their market share grow at the expense of those who merely offer the minimum required.
A worldwide topic
This situation is complicated by the USA’s recent Energy Independence Security Act (EISA) which came into force in December 2010. EISA mandates a minimum efficiency level of ‘NEMA Premium’ for motors imported into the USA.
NEMA Premium is equivalent to IE3, which is not due to come into force in the EU until 2015. Robin Cowley expects that some USA OEMs could be adopting NEMA Premium as their standard offering for international sales as well. This means that much imported equipment could offer end users a significantly faster payback in terms of reduced energy consumption than equipment sourced from the EU.
Ecological and marketing arguments
“For some simple items of equipment such as pumps or fans, the motor is a significant proportion of the bill of materials and US competitors might offer a lower-spec IE2 alternative in the EU,” adds Baldor’s Robin Cowley. “However, where a motor is only a small proportion of some larger equipment – on a conveyor system for example – US competitors have the opportunity to offer premium efficiency as standard. This potentially puts them in a position to gain market share here in Europe.”