Competition pushes for innovation ahead of regulations in electric motor industry



Dan Jones

Government regulations meant to boost electric motor efficiency and curb carbon emissions may have started the race for achieving ever-increasing output with lower energy intakes. But lately it’s the industry itself, propelled by competition, that has developed engines that can not only meet but also exceed the toughest European and U.S. standards, according to Dan Jones, acting chief engineer for St. Petersburg, Florida-based Revolution Motor Industries (RMI) and a speaker at the forthcoming CWIEME Chicago exhibition.

“We have governments with numerous regulations pushing for the implementation of premium or higher efficiency for electric motors, but the market itself has decided it wants to move further in motor efficiency, well above the regulations,” Jones says. “The reason is due to market competition, to put it plainly. After a company has achieved the level stipulated by the government, it can be difficult for an organization to differentiate itself in the market. An individual company can’t expect to gain that competitive advantage if more businesses are following suit.”

Jones argues that while certain regulations helped steer the market towards efficiency and sustainability, it’s competition that’s currently stimulating technological progress.

“Some manufacturers are looking at the guidelines with the aim to do better. Simple actions like announcing your commitment to go cleaner can make a huge difference and we all need to make more of an effort to reach a higher level of efficiency,” Jones adds. “There are at least five or six companies that have already started doing this and there’s probably a lot more. Of course, the more efficient motors become on the market, the easier it will be to optimize energy savings.”

The United States Department of Energy (DOE) has not increased the levels of efficiency that are required in the last few years. Instead, government representatives have raised the number of motors that are to be covered by the regulations.

“Over the past number of years, Europe has started to follow in the steps of United States by implementing the same regulations. In fact, Europe is increasingly catching up and I predict that they will eventually pass us out in about three years,” Jones explains. “Also, in the U.S., the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA), which is on the supplier side, is working in conjunction with the federal government to convince it that it needs to look at other components in a motion system, such as the electronic drive and the gear box. That’s what we want to focus on here.”

Jones believes better collaboration between European governments and electric motor industry key players are helping to move energy-efficiency forward across key markets.

At his upcoming seminar at CWIEME Chicago, he will expand on which motor suppliers are developing the high energy-efficient solutions faster than current regulations, and there are a growing number, according to him. “These include American manufacturers that are based on the premise that if you want to compete against the best market players, you have to develop a higher-efficiency product. Europe is focused on doing it by both individual markets and government regulations. Both work together more collaboratively than we do here in the U.S.”

Jones concludes the next five years are going to be interesting because “we will continue to raise the levels of efficiency. If it’s not done by the government, it will be done by the market. This is the message I want to present. Government regulations set the standards and rules, but market forces are starting to take over and create a path for others to join.”

Jones’ seminar, entitled “A global view of high efficiency electric motors,” will be held on Tuesday October 4, at 2:15 p.m. RMI representatives will also be on hand to answer questions at the company’s show booth (M26).

CWIEME Chicago