Ally Winning, European Editor, Power Systems Design
When thinking of power systems, or even any other electronics area, it is easy to get caught up in the latest breakthroughs and forget about the fundamental technologies that make up the majority of designs. Isaac Newton once allegedly said, that if he could see further, it was because he was standing on the shoulders of giants. The same is true for the power industry – some areas change at a comparatively slow rate, but are still vital to the everyday functioning of systems that we would find it difficult to live without.
One of those legacy technologies is coil winding. Coils are the key technology in components such as inductors and transformers, and also products like electric motors. The induction coil is one of the simplest electrical components, and was one of the first invented. The principle behind the induction was initially proposed by Michael Faraday in 1831 and the first coils were built independently by Charles Page and Nicholas Callan in 1836. For almost 200 years, coils have been continuously improved, predominantly through better materials and manufacturing advances.
This innovation in coils and products is still continuing today, and can be seen at the annual CWIEME conferences, held in Berlin, Chicago, Shanghai and Istanbul. The conferences and exhibitions are intended to showcase the whole industry supply chain including materials, equipment, components, machinery and services for the manufacture of transformers, electric motors, generators and other electrical devices.
The Berlin conference was held at the end of June in the Berlin Messe. There were 750 exhibitors from 45 countries in the six halls of the exhibition. The exhibitors came from a wide range of disciplines including manufacturers and suppliers of raw materials such as conductors, insulators, and coatings, right through to manufacturing machinery and design software. Over 6,500 attendees visited the show from around 80 countries and a wide range of vertical industries.
The exhibition was supported by a comprehensive conference over the three exhibition days. Subjects covered included the future prospects for the market, where the transformer market was predicted to see a significant growth to an estimated 304 billion USD by 2022 and with a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 6.2% from 2017 to 2022. A second market presentation from IHS estimated that the electrical motor market would be less encouraging with expected motor shipments expected to remain relatively flat, forecast to increase by 1.1% CAGR from 2016 to 2021.
Other conference presentations focused on technology and materials, along with a special focus on the industries that are expected to drive innovation in coil technologies over the next few years, such as in electrical vehicle powertrains and hyperloop transport.
Although both the theory behind inductance coils and practical examples are almost two centuries old, CWIEME demonstrated that the area is still innovating and improving. Products based on these technologies are as relevant today as they were when they were first manufactured, and they will continue to provide the platform for some of the most exciting advances in the coming years.