Manufacturers Turn to Low Voltage Controlgear to Protect Expensive Motors and Drives

By David Humphrey

Technology Trends

More and more manufacturing processes are becoming automated, and end users are spending more to protect their investments in electric motors and the machines they power. Despite this, manufacturers spent less on new low voltage controlgear in 2016, than the previous year. However, the market shows signs of strengthening in 2017, mostly due to delayed investments in China, according to a new ARC Advisory Group study.

Manufacturing and processing assets are expensive investments, typically kept in operation for many years, often for many decades. That’s why end users maintain these assets by investing in devices that protect the motors and drives that keep machines moving. Controlgear components are used in manufacturing applications to protect electric motors from overload, short circuits, and other hazards. ARC sees increasing use in automation in general and with AC drives in particular as manufacturers become increasingly conscious of the need to protect expensive production equipment and reduce unplanned downtime to squeeze more performance and life from their existing assets.

While the market is well staked out, ARC still observes some interesting dynamics. The controlgear market is mature, but there is a lot of activity in Asia as local players gradually take over the market from established European suppliers. Asia has become the largest market for low voltage controlgear, driven by the ongoing manufacturing boom, followed by Europe and North America. Part of this growth is due to greater use of automation to replace manual workers as labor costs rise. In addition, manufacturers and other industrial organizations around the world are investing more to protect expensive assets like electrical equipment and machinery from damage due to overload or short circuits.

The two main technical standards organizations worldwide for low voltage controlgear are NEMA and IEC. The NEMA standards are relevant in North America and parts of Latin America; the IEC standards apply in Europe and most of the rest of the world. Due to the increased activity in Asia and because IEC-rated controlgear devices tend to be smaller, more sophisticated, and lower priced than NEMA-rated devices, the market for IEC-rated devices is growing faster. For more information on this study, go to:

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